Coaches are fond of saying that sports don’t build character, but rather they are a reflection of character. This is also true of sports, they are a reflection of society. So too is the gawdy spectacle we know as the Super Bowl, (with all its glaring inequities and shameless displays of wealth), a reflection of our society.
In Minneapolis activists have complained that the NFL has practically taken over the city. Its true the Super Bowl has hi-jacked the publicly financed light rail trains, shut downtown driving lanes, and increased commuter pains. But it is really nothing new. Activists have complained about it being their money that is being spent. But since when have US citizens really had a say in how their money is spent?
The NFL convinced Minnesota, like it has cities and states across the US, to give taxpayers hard earned dollars to rich people (NFL owners), to help them build stadiums for which (the people) the taxpayers receive very little in return. The site of Super Bowl 52, US Bank Stadium, (the nearly billion dollar boondoggle) was initially called the “People’s Stadium” until the “bosses” realized they didn’t have to pretend; the people appeared perfectly fine with being duped and swindled.
A 2010 study by Judith Grant Long, of the University of Michigan, calculated that taxpayers shelled out an average of $374 million each for 31 NFL stadiums.
Yet people are outraged about the corporatization of the Super Bowl, the taking over of cities by the filthy rich and corporate America. But what’s different?
Hell the NFL owns two words of the English language when they are put together to read: “Super Bowl.” The NFL doesn’t pay taxes, because, incredibly, it is a non-profit.
When activists inquired about why there was a security perimeter around the site of this years Super Bowl, they were referred to Homeland Security and other State security apparatus. People were surprised, asking, ‘isn’t this the domain of Minneapolis?’
Well yes, but the “powers that be” have other ideas. This is no mere sporting event and so it is fertile ground, a real opportunity, not necessarily for scary terrorists but for scare-mongering. That is, it is a propaganda plum. State security is not saying why they are deploying over a thousand policemen, a hundreds dogs, dozens of cameras, several snipers, a few helicopters, two miles of fences and a “partridge” and a bomb squad.
But they don’t have to, they know we will figure it out and be afraid.
Super Bowl security is like airport security. It is not just about security, it is about propaganda. Airports are really vulnerable to folks who really are committed to doing damage and the authorities know this, so security is really about convincing the public that it should be afraid. It’s about convincing us as citizens to be afraid of the “other,’ so when the power structure says, ‘we have to bomb the “other,”’ we give our quick and quiet assent.
Cynical folks may assume that another reason for the security overkill is to keep that dreaded “Take A Knee” Movement away from their game. And it is indeed a new form of movement aimed at the plague of police violence and the related problem of racism in this country.
The NFL wants no part of those protests, so it is indeed likely they extended the security perimeter to discourage and even prevent protest at the stadium.
The anti-police violence, justice loving group, Take A Knee Nation is putting on a National Conference, titled “Race, Police Violence & the Right to Protest” which is indeed newsworthy, considering protest against police brutality has been in the spotlight thanks to NFL players taking a knee. But according to the organizers, with the exception of the Associated Press, it has not received a lot of bites from the compliant, “objective” and “unbiased” MSM, not even from the more outspoken Black sports pundits.
Quite the human interest story, or so it would seem, considering Take A Knee Nation is comprised of millennials, college students, kids from the “hood” athletes, housewives, activists, mothers, families (Black , White old and young) all coming together for a common cause: to address the issue of police violence.
Add to that about a dozen mothers, whose children have been felled by police violence along with students who have “taken a knee,” to protest it, are coming to Minneapolis on their own dime. It is a significant story all by itself ! The National Conference will honor mothers who have lost their children to police violence and the brave young people who have taken a knee, along with the determined seven NFL players, that were still taking a knee at the end of the season
There will be no taking of the knee inside the stadium!
The NFL power structure realized early on there was a chance that Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles could make the Super Bowl. And Lord knows they didn’t want to be embarrassed on international television. It’s one thing to be showed up on national telecasts, quite another to be showed up internationally. They had to do something because that big-hearted kid Chris Long, may have just decided it was his time to take a knee as well. He would be right, because the problem of police violence is not just a Black problem.
The more recent killings of Justine Damond in Minneapolis and Daniel Shaver in Mesa Arizona should dispel folks of that notion.
Moreover, the NFL has made sure there will be no protest at the game, by bribing the well- meaning committee of Black players who were taking a knee, The Players Coalition, apparently led by Jenkins. But as Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers pointed out, Jenkins missed the point. The problem of police violence cannot be solved with money. Jenkins may not have intended too, but he sold out the group’s principles. This is not about community service, this is about human rights and the protection of those rights.
The “taking of the knee” is a political statement, a political movement that demands that police stop killing people. Money won’t fix this, it only be solved with political will.
Unfortunately money is everything in our society, which puts the needs of profit-making and its profiteers over the needs of people. The Super Bowl is simply another reflection of these priorities. Thus any distraction or opposition to the goal of allowing rich people to engage in uninterrupted, self indulgent, merry making and profiteering will be considered anathema.
justice then peace