An Unpopular Opinion: The Super Bowl Is a Colossal Waste of Time

Watching the Super Bowl is a sin against the universe. The players who aren’t even from the cities they’re representing, the bloated salaries, the clichés, the platitudes, the brain-numbing commentary, the endless commercial breaks—aren’t there better ways of spending your time? Read a book, learn a language, go hiking—go out and play a sport yourself.

Same goes for professional sports in general. Never in human history has there been such a meaningless drain on the time, energy, and money of a civilization. We subsidize stadiums, fork out tons of money to coaches and players, dedicate whole days to passively sitting on our duffs and taking in events which have no real relevance whatsoever.

Never in human history has there been such a meaningless drain on the time, energy, and money of a civilization.

Lest you think I’m just some anti-American, artsy wimp who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, let me say this. In my early adolescence, I was a true sports nut. I religiously followed the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings and I knew all the players and all the stats and watched every game. The sweet heartache of being a sports fan was all too familiar to me—the ups, the downs, the hope, the despair.

But somewhere around the age fifteen, I put, as the Bible so eloquently puts it, childish things behind me. I discovered literature, history, art, music, Nature, women.

I also began to feel a certain loathing for commercialism. Shameless sponsorship permeates every facet of professional sports and the Super Bowl in particular. The Mercedes Benz Superdome, the Jeep Halftime Show, the Bud Light Whatever. Not only does this crass commercialism degrade the supposed dignity of the game, but it also feeds into the same mindless brand-consciousness that plagues our society as a whole.

When you root for a team, you’re basically rooting for a logo, a certain color set, and maybe a few general personality traits of the coach and star players. Any meaning is lost—it’s merely the ritual of meaning.

Which ties into the strange tradition of the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Nobody—but nobody—ever enjoys the halftime show, football fans—especially football fans—included.

Why do they even bother? If for no other reason, it’s a pitiful sop to those who might not otherwise watch a football game.

The commercials serve the same purpose—they’re primarily there to entertain the people who don’t really like football. Nothing wrong with that, I guess—but both the halftime show and the commercials tend to be noisy, annoying, and dumb. Even the so-called “smart” commercials are dumb deep down.

Strangely, another drawback to watching professional sports is the sheer efficiency and ability of the players. Besides perhaps having more of a geographical connection to the towns and institutions they represent, what makes high school and college sports worth watching is how they’re a little more rough around the edges. Stupid mistakes and accidents happen more often, things are more awkward, the teams operate less like well-oiled machines—which makes it all so much more real and human.

There is a point when things become too efficient, too advanced, and all of the rough and tumbleness is drained out. So it is with professional sports. Most of the players are super good and super fit, and the errors they commit are usually relatively minor—Bill Buckner being the exception that proves the rule. And the strategies coaches/managers implement are usually meant to minimize risk and ensure a safe victory. Professional teams are, after all, money-making machines first and a group of athletes second.

What bugs me most of all, however, is the tears of the winners and losers at the end. I know a lot of time and energy and thought went into this past football season. I know that the players genuinely love the game, and that winning is very important to them. But why is it acceptable for an adult male to cry about a game? Grow up, guys.

  • February 03, 2016
  • Jon Eckblad
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