The Requisite American Ritual…

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Football fanatics and apathetic viewers all seem to be able to unite for one single day throughout the year… Super Bowl!

I’ve seen Super Bowl parties big and small, but usually full of the the quintessential attendees: the “Walking-Football-Almanacs,” the “Nobody-Loves-This-Team-More-Than-Me,” the “Just-Jumped-On-The-Bandwagon,” the “I’m-Here-For-The-Free-Beer-And-Food,” and most importantly… the “Shhh-The-Commercials-Are-On.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I was born and raised in a family that indoctrinated the religion of football. Perhaps my first tantrum can be traced back to a poor call from a referee and my first football chant involved shouting “piss poor coaching” at the TV in melodic harmony with rest of my family.  Growing up in a rural town in Appalachia only solidified the importance of football, as my hometown would resemble Varsity Blues during the rivalry game (albeit we only had two teams).  As a kid and teenager, my favorite memories revolved around football games:  from being a majorette and cheerleader, to captain of the color guard, to a bonafide marching band geek.

Now here is where two roads diverge in a wood…

Over the years, my die-hard passion has mellowed to lukewarm. For no single reason, I no longer plan my Sunday and Monday nights around the game  schedules of my favorite teams, or save up ludicris amounts of money to sit in a small seat, with 7 layers of clothes, sipping on $12 beers, just to see the action in person. I have become that apathetic viewer, but just don’t tell my family.

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Super Bowl 2013 is like every other year for me, as I planned to continue my role of apathetic viewer to watch the game with the rest of the world…  yes, world. It is estimated that 71% of every home with a TV in the United States was tuned into the Superbowl. My own brother stationed in Europe sat camped around with hoards of other military service men to participate in the obligatory celebration.

Think about this: Super Bowl has the ultimate platform. In between watching men violently pummel each other to run a small ball back and forth across a well manicured lawn, we are elated to watch 30-90 second commercials (you know, the very thing we pay our high-dollar DVRs to skip on a day-to-day basis.) I’ll admit, the commercials are great. They are well researched and planned by the most influential marketing firms, sometimes over a year in advance. By May 2012, over half of all the commercial slots had already been sold. Super Bowl XLVII (2013) continued the trend in commercial cost, by setting a new record average of $4,000,000 per 30 seconds of marketing (“average,” as in many paid more!).

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So here is my food for thought → Just imagine! Imagine what our country could do with all of that money. Think about how many underfunded but necessary services could be bolstered to new heights. What if we all gathered around like crazed fanatics around a topic with true “give back” potential?  Could you imagine if the Super Bowl commercial battle was not about who could pay the most, but who could change the most? What if our very own class video project could be viewed by millions and millions around the world, all at the same time? A Super Bowl commercial featuring (my secret, and not so secret obsession) of Ted Talks, or innovative ideas to help poverty, secure human rights, or provide sustainable food for the hungry? What about helping to reform our broken criminal justice system, election system, or education system for that matter? The possibilities are endless and the latent consequences of positive change are astounding.

Sigh. End rant. I need to get back to my Super Bowl party and give a good “piss poor coaching” yell on behalf of my dad.  ;o)

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