Yesterday, much to the disappointment of my young children (who wanted to watch Horton Hears a Who on FX), I commandeered the remote and switched over to the Superbowl pregame show. I realize the pregame show goes on for much of the day, but we switched over at 5pm (CST) - just in time to watch Colin Powell and someone from the NFL school us on the Declaration of Independence.
Huh? What's that got to do with football?
Why we needed such a civics lesson just moments before the start of Superbowl XLV, I'm not quite sure. The video was filled with stirring music, employed bunches of people (mostly men) to recite bits and pieces of the Declaration of Independence, used a range of locations as backdrop for the speakers, and included lots of people in military garb.
[It was at this time that my children demanded (unsuccessfully) a return to Horton Hears a Who.]
Yes, the Superbowl is part of the American fabric. Though I watch few football games throughout the year, even I make a point of watching the Superbowl. And this year, I forced my Horton-loving children to watch it as well.
But when we switched from Horton ("a person's a person no matter how small!"), to the Superbowl pregame show on Fox, we were expecting info on the two teams, not an over-the-top presentation of the Declaration of Independence.
The stirring recitation of the Declaration of Independence ends; we wonder at its inclusion in the pregame hype; and then Fox cuts to the Michael Douglas piece called The Journey.
I watch, astonished, at images of suffragettes and Iwo Jima and 9/11, and the space shuttle and Katrina, and wonder if the creators of that video REALLY want us to believe that the sacrifices of Americans on all the many "darkest days" we've experienced as a nation (the Depression, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Katrina, etc. and so on) are simply stepping stones on the journey to Superbowl XLV. Did suffragettes march to gain the right to vote so men and women could sit down together to watch the Superbowl? Did Martin Luther King's dream include a match up between the Packers and Steelers in 2011?
Please, dear God, I hope not. Contrary to the message of the video, the Superbowl is NOT bigger than a football game. It is a football game. It is JUST a football game.
Which makes it entertainment. Mega-hyped entertainment. Fun, yes. Important at shaping the the future of our nation, no.
Despite what Fox and the NFL think, entertainment is not history. The events depicted in The Journey are simply far bigger, far more important and significantly more influential in our lives than whatever happened on the field during Superbowl XLV. The sacrifices that overpaid pro football players make to get to the Superbowl are pathetic and irrelevant when compared to the sacrifices our troops and citizens have made during our "darkest days."
And honestly, if the Superbowl takes us to one of those moments that is "bigger than football," please let us remember the words to the National Anthem!