Tuesday, February 07, 2006
of Xtra Lame Super Bowls & fairness
So just about everybody here in Seattle is talking about the travesty that was the "officiating" at this year's Super Bowl. From the onset of the game, it was pretty obvious from the commercials to the broadcasting the Steelers were the overwhelming favorite, the team that the NFL wanted to win to manufacture a legend to sell more merchandise. Justin wrote a pretty good rant here.
As I predicted, plenty of newspaper and other news media have already glossed over the whole controversy, though a few places had the balls to write about it:
FoxSports: Refs Were Far from Super
NY Daily News: On Further Review, It's Awful!
The horrible officiating was obvious even to the opposing team - Steelers QB Roethlisberger admitted he thought he didn't score the TD when he appeared on the Letterman show after the Super Bowl.
So why is there a big stink overit all? Why do so many people care about the outcome of the Super Bowl?
There's probably a lot of different answers, but I believe personally that sports is very central to modern American culture. Being such a young and diverse country, I would argue it is the morality and spectacle of sports that happens to bring Americans together. In a way, sports is a representation of the perfect world that we all long for - a world where success is determined by talent, hard work, and teamwork. Sports culture is centered around the idea of "fairness", that winning is achieved by the competitor who deserves it.
Of course, the sports world is directly opposed to the unjust world that we inhabit now - a world where success often has more to do with your physical appearance, the color of your skin, your family background, your wealth, your nationality, your religion, etc.
But when the great Black athletes of the 20th century broke color barriers in professional sports, they demolished the idea that African Americans were inferior to whites. In front of Hitler himself, Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Boxer Joe Louis became a hero to Americans regardless of race when he defeated Nazi Germany's Max Schmeling (who ironically was himself, held anti-Nazi sympathies) in a title bout rematch. When Jackie Robinson debuted in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, America took note. Time after time, sports has become a lens through which people sometimes can catch a glimpse of that idea called "fairness".
While people can become accustomed to the idea that the world is unfair, the idea of unfairness in sports in unthinkable. A lack of fairness tarnishes the "safe place" that we reserve for sports - hence our bans on player participation in gambling, performance drugs, ets. When unfairness creeps into the world of sports, we feel outrage, because we don't want sports to mirror the "real world". We'd much rather the real world mirror sports, and sometimes, if we're lucky... it does.
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