In recent times, my interest in the game of American football has been rapidly declining. It seems like the NFL is getting a little more like the mainstream news networks and more political and less and less like a sports league for an American pastime.
In 2011, we had the infamous Tim Tebow ad. In the ad, Tebow’s mother told America that she “almost lost him many times”. She doesn’t actually state anything about being faced with aborting him, but the commercial was done by Focus on the Family, a religious organization that is anti-abortion. The actual story is that the doctors told his mother that Tim wasn’t even a fetus, he was a tumor and wanted her to abort him. Like most Christians of their type, they didn’t even consider it. Mrs. Tebow was high risk and almost lost Tim several times during the pregnancy. Long story short, Tim lived.
The story really is rather unremarkable to be honest. Thousands of women go through this same thing and the only reason they milked this story was because they’re anti-abortion. So be it, but it has no place in a major league football championship. All that does is serve to guilt trip anyone who’s been through it and chose to believe the doctors and might have perhaps been wrong.
That ad was a turning point for me. I lost a lot of faith in the NFL, and my faith in them wasn’t all that great even at that point. In my opinion, people don’t go to football games and watch them on TV so that they can have the same everyday propaganda shoved down their throats that they get every time they turn on the mainstream news. We don’t watch this stuff so that we can be reminded of all the controversy in every day life. The Super Bowl is not every day life, it’s a once a year special occasion where people put aside all the stresses of daily living to watch a ball game.
In 2002, the rock band U2 played under a giant projection screen and while they were performing the song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” the names of all the September 11th victims scrolled on the screen. For a few people that might have been fine and all of that, but for me it was just a downer and I didn’t actually enjoy the rest of the game. I can see a moment of silence for something of that magnitude, but actually naming the victims at the celebration at half-time during a ball game I just consider poor form. It’s just another reminder of all the horror going on in the world that most people turn on a football game to forget. Here is a news flash for everyone that thinks we need these reminders even during a 3 hours event: we won’t forget forever just because we take 3 freaking hours off. I know that’s news to them, but we just won’t. It would be impossible to forget until you ran around all the time wearing a pair of headphones, black out glasses and your head in the sand.
This year, they just couldn’t stay away from exploiting another national tragedy. It went far beyond a moment of silence or a brief mention. This year, they decided to have the Sandy Hook Elementary school chorus sing “America the Beautiful” during the opening of the game alongside Jennifer Hudson. While that might look cute on the outside, for the public it’s uncomfortable and exploitative. I’ve read nothing but backlash and annoyance from people regarding that event. I was absolutely appalled that the NFL executives would even entertain this idea, let alone do it.
The reason that this rubs me the wrong way is because of what I said earlier. We don’t watch football to be reminded of tragedies over and above a brief mention. Scrolling the names of people who died horrifically, or parading children from a recent horrific event at a school around for public consumption is NOT my idea of fun or a good time. That, my friends, is guilt tripping and exploitation for money and advertising bucks. The last thing those poor children need is to be paraded about to events and news conferences and tv shows, having them also be reminded of the horrors they had just witnessed! It was the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen. We can’t even leave these poor kids in peace to even watch a damned football game and perhaps grab an hour or two of solace. We had to bring them out to perform for our entertainment like a bunch of trained monkeys or a side show.
“Step right up, folks! See the Siamese twins! See the bearded lady! See the group of extremely young school children who just witnessed the slaughter of their friends and classmates!”
That’s so tacky I don’t even have words for it. If any one of my sons had been on that chorus, I would have forbid them to participate. Screw that noise. I would not allow the media to exploit my children after them having just been through one of the most life altering events imaginable. I’d have said, “Sorry, we won’t be attending. Good luck, wouldn’t want to be you.”
I wonder if they chose Jennifer Hudson for the same reason they chose the Sandy Hook kids. Her own family was brutally murdered, so I found it rather coincidental. It’s was also ironic though. It was ironic because they had the Sandy Hook kids and Jennifer Hudson, all with a horrific story of violence, playing the opening to a game that has gotten a lot of very bad press lately for being too violent and being an example of America’s obsession with violence. Hell, even President Obama came out to slam football for being too violent, saying that if he had a son, he probably wouldn’t allow him to play football! I wonder if the execs had thought of that before they planned this.
Also, I want to know how long this appearance had been in the works. The Sandy Hook tragedy isn’t even 2 months old yet! Talk about poor form, what the hell did they do, approach these poor kids a couple weeks after and ask them to sing for us?! W.T.F?! It all just sounds like a whole lot of work and exposure that those poor kids did not need at this point in time.
In the end, it was just another indication that we care more about the advertising and about the cheap attention than we do about the games, now. It’s a lot like how the Olympics are treated in the last 30 years or so. There is more attention given to building a sprawling, beautiful Olympic village and a lot more attention given to advertising than there is to the actual games.
I wonder if we’ve lost our sportsmanship. Because dragging 6-8 years onto a football field not even 2 months after they’ve just been through a horrific, mind altering event, for our entertainment to oogle is terrible sportsmanship.
I really thought the NFL should be above this stuff. We get enough media saturation of these events on Fox News and CNN, we don’t need the NFL to join in. Pretty soon the Super Bowl will be two teams that take the field for a grand entrance and then sit on the bench and do nothing else. Then we’ll see 40 minutes of ads. After that, we’ will an opening show. Then 40 more minutes of ads. After that is a closing show featuring whatever poor individuals have had the most horrific life that week. Then we’ll see 40 minutes of specially made ads. No game. Just ads and exploitation.
See ya later, NFL, I’m not in the market for that.