What Do You Do While Everyone Else on The Planet Watches the Super Bowl?
I write and watch for the commercials. And this year the poetry. Oh, and fighting systemic racism.
A little background. I grew up in Friday Night Lights. The real ones.
The football stadium lights were the brightest lights in our small Texas town that sported only one stoplight.
We were there in those stands, under those damned lights, every Friday night from September through December, because we had a winning team. Rain or shine, sleet or hail. All of which we had sometime or another in those months. Four months of every year, every Friday night. Whether we wanted to be there or not. And I didn’t. Go Team!
And did I mention it was an all white town? No diversity for us, on the field or off.
Then I attended college at a university with a losing team. What a huge relief, although it is sacrilege in Texas to say so. Fortunately for them, the TCU horned frogs are now part of the Big Twelve, and mostly win, or so I’m told.
So, although I know all about football, it’s not my sport. Thank goodness my son didn’t want to play. Basketball is so much more civilized. No tackling, at least legally, and, best of all for me as a parent and spectator, it’s played indoors.
No bulky coats in basketball, no need ot buy hot chocolate at the concession stand to hold in your hands to warm them, and in an emergency, to pour on your feet. Yes, we thought about it. And once, we did start a fire in the stands using the programs, because it’s just that cold in North Texas.
What does any of this have to do with the Super Bowl?
It’s why I only watch for the commercials, and, this year, the poetry.
First, the poetry. What’s up, Super Bowl, are you trying to win me over? Well, if anything could, this is it. Amanda Gorman is our new national shero. As a way of uniting us all, The NFL decided to honor those in our communities who’ve helped others during the pandemic. Matt Shapiro, NFL’s vice president of events strategy said, “We knew that in order to honor them properly — and all of those across the country that they represent — we needed the right words that would match the power of that moment, and there is no one more perfectly suited to bring those words to the world than Amanda Gorman.”
Her poem, “Chorus of the Captains,” honored three people representative of all those working for their communities in a pandemic, Suzie Dorner, an ICU nurse for COVID patients, Trimaine Davis, an L.A. teacher who got laptops for his students, and James Martin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who helps both veterans and young people. She said, “We celebrate them by acting with courage and compassion, by doing what is right and just,” an extension of her inauguration poem calling for us all to be the light.
Damn you NFL, you had me at fighting systemic racism.
And after they seduced me with poetry, they ran a commercial of their own. It ended with “The NFL pledges $250 million to fight systemic racism.”
I had every intention of making this a review of the best commercials. And Poetry. Then this. The award for best commercial for the 2021 Super Bowl goes to…the NFL. They almost got me back when whole teams took a knee for Black Lives Matter, after Kaepernick did it alone and lost his career over it. That was the players, not the NFL. In fact, they were against the protests. But then the Black players issued a message in 2020 demanding NFL officials admit that the players were “wrongfully silenced,” and wrote, “We will not be silenced. We assert our right to peacefully protest.” It took four years from Kaepernick’s first protest, but finally the NFL gets it.
Now the organization itself is putting real money where the players knees are. Football doesn’t get any better than this.