Monday, February 03, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Party for the privleged

For those of you in the cheap seats I'd like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry!”  --John Lennon 
Another Super Bowl in the can.

Maty and I actually watched the game this year. We and roughly 97 million other persons (according to Neilsen). What made it strange was that we watched because she suggested it! Maty, the gal from West Africa who doesn't even understand American football, suggested that she and I watch the game together. On teevee! She said she wanted to see the commercials.

Mismatched work schedules put a premium on the time that Maty and I have together and Super Sunday was our day. So we watched, even though it has been 20 years or more since I've had any interest in the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks, our neighbors to the north, blew out the Denver Broncos in a surprisingly lop-sided game. Final score 43-8. Denver bungled their opening play from scrimmage and gave up a safety to the tenacious Seahawk defense. On the first play from scrimmage! For the Broncos, it was all downhill from there.

At some point in the day, maybe while enduring the breathless pre-game coverage on the tube, or maybe while enjoying all the chomp-at-the-bit sh*t-talking on Facebook, it occurred to me that the Super Bowl is prima facie evidence of the gaping resource chasm that exists in this country. I'm talking about the gap between those who have everything --the upper 10% --and all the rest of us.

The Super Bowl isn't really an event for most of us. Yes, we gather around our television sets in our millions, munching chips and guacamole. But we're spectators. We aren't included in the party.

Consider: according to the New York Times, cheap seats at MetLife Stadium went for $1600 per. For top-of-the-line corporate suites the price was $292,000. In Portland, that could buy you a very decent 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house! Of course, most of us would have to take out a mortgage and pay it off over decades. No one I know has access to the kind of resources that allow you to spend over a quarter million dollars to spend a day partying.

I have to imagine that the vast majority of the people taking part in the Super Bowl event --the people sitting in those seats, enjoying Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers half-time show --are affluent beyond anything I can ever imagine. Of course, noblesse oblige dictates that the NFL relegate a few seats to charitable causes --Special Olympics kids, wounded war veterans, and so on --but the rest of us aren't really welcome at the party. It's an elite event.

Flawed presidential candidate John Edwards used to speak about there being two Americas. "One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward."

That speech, the "Two Americas" speech, came to mind while Maty and I munched Papa Murphy's pizza. We sat under a blanket on the couch in our drafty living room. Glued to our television screen. Watching the rich folks rattle their jewelry. At the Super Bowl.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Somebody's suing the NFL under New Jersey anti-scalping law, which says that you are not allowed to keep more than 5% of the tickets to any public event out of normal public sales channels. Since the NFL allocates 99% of Super Bowl tickets to teams, players, corporate sponsors, etc., the $200-$300 face value tickets end up on the resale market for minimum $1500. Somebody who bought a pair of multi-thousand dollar tickets is suing. Go for it! Can you believe that the NFL is officially a tax-free non-profit association?