Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: woodstock for the rich and shameless

It's Super Bowl Sunday.

Thirty second advertising spots cost more than $2.7 milion.

That's not close to the $10 billion we spend in Iraq every month. But it would sure help struggling urban school districts like MPS and the Racine Unified buy books, restore classes in art, music and gym that keep kids interested in school, and reduce unacceptably high pupil teacher ratios. Or it would help Wisconsin's Universities and tech colleges keep tuition, which has been rising like gas prices, affordable.

My favorite sports writer and friend, Dave Zirin writes:

Before it is anything else, before it’s even a football game, the Super Bowl is first and foremost a two week entertainment festival for the rich and shameless: a corporate Woodstock with suits and sports cars subbing for ponchos and patchouli. Less free love and drugs, more hookers and scotch.

One headline preceding the big game read "Phoenix Faces Super Bowl Parking Woe: Where to Put Gulfstreams?" As the article stated, "The Arizona host committee expects 800 to 1,000 private jets, or more, to use the airports before Sunday's game. That will be at least double the number when nearby Tempe was the site of the Super Bowl in 1996.”

Giants co-owner Steve Tisch spoke about the pugilistic plutocrats at the airport. “’When that game's over and a lot of people who've flown on private planes want to go home and everybody feels that they're entitled to be the first to take off, that's when it gets interesting. A lot of people are saying to their pilots to tell the tower, “Do you know who I've got on my plane?'''

What a terrifically charming slice of life. Is now an appropriate time to tell Mr. Tisch that 21.2% of children in Arizona live below the poverty line? Or 40% of Native Americans? Can he hear me over the jets?

The thought of corporate execs swinging their egos to get their planes out of an airport hangar is a perfect snapshot for the excess that’s smothered the game. The Super Bowl has become a place to see and be seen. Q ratings matter more than quarterbacks. And spectacle has triumphed over sport.

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