Super Bowl And Our Culture

Lesson number: 

It's Saturday night before Super Bowl XL. The big game tomorrow in Detroit Michigan features the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks in the extravaganza sporting event of the year. There not much one can discuss about this annual event that hasn't already been discussed in complete detail. However, I'm always up for trying to extract some knowledge or wisdom from this and every life experience we encounter.

Let's begin with the weather forecast calling for 4-8 inches of snow to fall in the vicinity of the stadium tonight. Fear Not! Nothing seems to deter the spirit and passion for this major event. Not weather; security threats; or any challenge is overlooked. The planners of this big game think of everything for years in advance. To take care of that weather problem, there are 250 state and local snow plows standing by, along with a thousand workers ready to remove that snow as fast as it falls. For security, probably every branch of the military; intelligence; state and city police is involved using the latest technologies available to mankind to protect this event. The TV news this week reported the number at 10,000 strong, involved in security duty for this year's Super Bowl. This event is our national showcase and no expense is spared to take every precaution possible to provide safety.

I have been fortunate to watch some portion of all 39 games played thus far, and I'll be watching number 40 tomorrow with my family. Many of the games were blow-outs and not very interesting to watch. A handful lived up to their "Super Status" pre-game hype. Ironically, this is probably the only TV show we ever broadcast in America, that the viewing audience won't complain about the commercials. Isn't that novel? One reason is that advertisers pay the network big bucks to showcase their company before 90 million TV viewers. This year the tab is around 2.25 million for a thirty second spot. Add to that the cost of producing the "BEST AND MOST UNIQUE" commercial possible to entertain and expose your wares and who knows what the real cost can add up to. Thus, every ad is unique and sometimes ends up being more entertaining than the game itself.

Then there's halftime which is always a huge production which aims to please and keep you watching. Money is no object when it comes to this game and after 40 years, this event is as popular and talked about as any event can be! It's a day for parties all over the country and in my opinion is probably enjoyed by more people than New Years Eve. Billions of dollars are bet on this game, yet most who watch on TV could care less who plays or actually wins. What counts is that it happens every year and the hype continues to grow.

So what can we learn about our culture from Super Bowl Sunday? First and foremost, it's a good reason to have a good time! Most American's know how to work hard and surely know how to play hard and socialize. Second, we have an absolute obsession with being number one. In our culture, there are numerous companies that collectively bring in billions in revenues ranking everyone and everything. Our data collection seems unending. Organized sports activities lead the way at every level from Little Leaguers and Pop Warner; to High School; College; and the Professional ranks. The Super Bowl is "the epitome" of reaching the top of the pack.

Events like the Super Bowl fuels the fire for hundreds of other TV events. American's love to watch TV shows consisting of people and teams being challenged and then rewarded for being the BEST. If we ever counted all the pageants; movie awards; TV awards; music awards; and the long list of game shows where everyone is striving to win at all costs, we would recognize that my theory on obsessing to win holds some weight.

So what is it about being in the top ten, top five or the ultimate winner? While I love to take part in sensible and reasonable competition like a tennis or chess match, I am often sickened by what some people will do to enter or win some competitions. I watched the Fear Factor once and couldn't believe my eyes. It seemed like the authors of these competitions go out of their way to display how much they can demean human beings. Can you imagine the impression a show like this can make on a 12 year old watching a frightened teenage girl covered with scorpions, worms and roaches in order to WIN a contest? This is the dark side of competition in American.

In conclusion, the Super Bowl has a positive underlying message for all. To get there takes lots of planning, practice and hard work from the entire organization that makes it to the big game. The teams and staff must acquire talents and skills; be disciplined; and execute well together. It's honorable to make it there and incredible to win. We can all borrow some wisdom from this event as we strive to be the best at what we do, while never compromising our values, morals and good judgment. That's the kind of culture we can all be very proud of.

Listen to the Podcast of this Lesson