Sunday, February 6, 2011

For Superbowl 2011

I admit I'm not a big sports fan; I think a lot of pro sports is an unmitigated "yawn" and I'm personally offended (very offended) when I read about the salaries pro athletes earn. Before you give me how they have a limited number of years to play in their careers or how their injuries can be monstrous let me remind you that millions of Americans go to jobs every day facing the very same possibilities -- some for nearly minimal wage and with no public adulation. If you don't know who these people are -- contact me; I've give you a list of occupations that are horribly dangerous and grossly underpaid.

OK, that said, I need to admit that sometimes I enjoy watching football but I wish it was safer. It bothers me that I can enjoy watching a sport that is so inherently dangerous. I also wish it was not corrupted by crass corporate greed. 

Football is one of those deeply conflicted aspects of my personality that I struggle with; truly, it gives me pause for concern. Maybe it's much like my problem with meat.

I'm an animal lover, an animal rights person, and have worked in animal rescue. I believe animals have rights, should be treated humanely, need to be preserved and protected. Yes, I believe animals are sentient beings. I think they have souls -- or anyway, they're not as soulless as a lot of humans I know.

I want to be a vegetarian; I believe being a vegetarian is the right moral path for me and I admit that when I eat less meat -- or even go vegetarian for any period of time (as I've done in the past) -- that I'm healthier and feel better.

But I keep falling off the veggie wagon. I can pass on chicken and even walk away from turkey (and I especially love turkey); I can figure out how to make chili and great Italian red gravy without meat and, if I had to, I could go the rest of my life without a hamburger. But wave a piece of bacon at me or let me smell a steak cooking on the grill and I have no control over myself; all of my resolve melts in the face of a BLT or a charcoal grill.

It's the same with the Super Bowl; that's the fat grilled steak on my plate, the rasher of bacon on the side...

I always look for justifications for these lapses and sometimes find them; I try to support local organic and humane farmers and will go out of my way to buy their meat. OK, that's pretty lame, but I'm trying.

I've done far better with football because it requires much less sacrifice; for the most part I can take it or leave it -- with two exceptions: when the Bears play Green Bay and when either of them go to Super Bowl.

This year it's been a win:win for me because at least one of the two teams has made it to Super Bowl XLV but I still feel somewhat conflicted... the game is too risky and the sport is far too commercialized.

I was researching some history about the Super Bowl and came across a very interesting article about sports and politics and it reminded me of something I'd forgotten; ie., that the Packers are the only not-for-profit team in the NFL.

Damn; I like that; I like that very much -- it appeals to so many of the other values I hold dear. The risk remains but the ownership structure resonates with me.

Let me provide you with an excerpt from this article (an interview with Dave Zirin):

"I'm asked a lot if there are any good owners (in football) and I always say the best owners are the 112,000 owners of the Green Bay Packers. With the Packers, you have an ownership structure the NFL does its damnest to obscure and keep secret that the Packers are a not for profit team.

It's something that dates back to 1923 and in 1960, [the NFL] wrote in the bylaws that no other team could follow suit and be like the Packers. Yet, here the Packers are and they have no owner that's threatening to move the team elsewhere, unlike San Diego and Minnesota. The Packers owners are not threatening if they don't get a new stadium they're going to move somewhere else. Even beer at Lambeau Field costs half as much as it does in other stadiums.

It's a team that's really bonded the community and it's a very interesting and frightening example that we don't need owners to have pro sports. If anything, it's such poetic justice to see the Packers in the Super Bowl because this whole season has been scarred by the owners constantly threatening to lock out the players of next season unless they get a biggest piece of the profits."

The article is excellent and addresses other issues as well and I'm providing the link at the bottom of the post.

Anyway, I knew I was going to be rooting for the Pack today after the Bears lost their Super Bowl chance. I love the state of Wisconsin and was once a Cheesehead myself so when the Bears are out of the picture my loyalty shifts easily a bit further north. I suspect most Chicagoans do the same.

Now, however, my feelings are even warmer & fuzzier as I look forward to the game later today. I really, really like it that I'm rooting for a team as historically unique as the Pack.

And I've decided that the food spread I'm laying out for our Super Bowl party today will be vegetarian... it will still be delicious and a lot of folks won't even know they're not eating meat because I've made tasty alternatives.

Of course, the table is also loaded with a lot of cheese... lots and lots of cheese!

Here's the full article: "All Sports is Political" @


  1. mick, get the lowfat cheese. what is wrong with the nfl that it would outlaw auto workers buying the lions?

  2. Well, Mary Lou, that's an interesting question and I admit I'm totally stumped. I know absolutely nothing about it but it sounds like it bears looking into but from what I'm able to infer from what Dave Zirin said in the article I referenced, the NFL probably didn't like how the ownership would be structured and somehow it conflicts with their interests.

  3. what you mean is the owners are a bunch of rich old men who don't want to see a not for profit franchise.

  4. LOL! Yeah, I guess you're right... your statements works too!