Monday, January 24, 2011

Thoughts on the Super Bowl (and a tirade on sports in general)

Heeeey, kittens.

I've found myself at a crossroad (cue Bone Thugs music). I'm torn between rooting for Aaron Rodgers, a 27 year old dunce in Green Bay who does the "belt" move whenever he scores a touchdown, or a hillbilly QB in Pittsburgh who went to a college bar and raped a girl. Choices, choices.

Actually, it's not a choice at all. I'll have to root for Green Bay in the Super Bowl come February. It's bound to catch flack from my co-host, and most of my family and friends, but I really do refuse to root for a rapist. Especially one that's celebrated by Sports analysts and ESPN hosts daily for his work on the field. Especially one that's famous and has millions of dollars. Nope. Gotta go Green Bay.

I started thinking about how awful it's going to be watching these two teams play in the Super Bowl, and I came to the (not so stunning) realization that I'm probably not going to watch the Super Bowl. It really is just a pretty disgusting affair, an unprotected orgy of neon lights, pop star anthems and commercials for phones and nacho chips that cost over 10 million dollars just to air. The whole thing is an awards show, a big, over-inflated self-congratulatory money-making machine. There's 3 hours of bands and promotional ads and interviews and speculation and celebrity hand jobs and retired athlete ass-play before the "show" even begins. It's a big pageant, that's all it is. It's the least "sports-y" event in sports.

I'm a sports fan. I'm die hard Cubs and love the Bulls, and I watch every Bears and Blackhawks game (although I'll admit to not being a huge fan of either sport). But I'm growing increasingly disgusted with the shape of professional sports today, and the way we celebrate folks who would otherwise be criminals because they're really good at the game they play. I don't think raping someone and being allowed to play in the Super Bowl the next year is exactly fair. I don't think butchering and burying dogs and getting to play in the playoffs your second year back is fair. I don't think being caught with assault rifles in your home, or shooting yourself at a night club, or getting in a gunfight outside a strip club, or being an accomplice to a murder, and still getting to play your sport is fair.

The counter to this argument is that these are just guys doing a job, and that they've paid their dues and we have no right to not allow them the option of coming back and making a living. Yes we totally do. This isn't the same thing as a contractor who rapes a lady, goes to prison and is denied coming back to be a contractor. In that instance, I'm sure the argument could be made for both sides. But kids aren't going to be wearing jerseys with that contractor's name on it. He's not going to be doing endorsements for power bars or heating pads. He's a regular schmo, and the public doesn't look to him for anything. Athletes, whether they like it or not, are held to a higher standard. Whether that standard is fair or not is debatable (I'd be one to say it's an unnecessary standard that's only used to sell merchandise and air-time), but if you want the millions of dollars you're getting paid to play a fun game with your friends, then you need to suck it up and not be involved in a hit-and-run under the influence of alcohol that winds up murdering a person (Dante Stallworth did 4 months in prison for that, by the way).

I'm finding myself depressed by professional sports. It's a polished, shiny spectacle of nothing. It consistently promises more than it could ever hope to deliver, which is a group of individuals playing together that represent the hopes of their respective city. Now it's about Kobe Bryant being the good guy after his Colorado hotel altercation with one of the cleaning ladies, and Lebron James being the bad guy because he plays with his friends for more money.

That's the Super Bowl for you. A reality show with whistles, and more locker-room skeletons than the league knows what to do with.

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