It could just be my increasingly waning interest in football. Or the lack of cable in my house, allowing me to more easily curate the media I absorb. I'd be happy to find out that it's just my feeling and not a wider thing. But the buildup to this year's Super Bowl has been... dimmed. Less bombastic. And when football coverage loses bombast, my instinct is to ask if it's feeling okay. Yeah, media week was still there in all its grasping, repetitive glory. It's all still happening: the game, the ads, the halftime show. But it feels to me as though it's going through the motions. It's happening because it's what we do. Market forces wouldn't have it any other way. And, really, we all need it, too. Or, at least, we usually do. The Super Bowl is always, if nothing else, a fun distraction from the bleak midwinter. But it's not enough this year. Even if it were enough, distraction is not what we need right now.
Drew Magary has already written about the incongruousness of all this:
"Things are NOT going smoothly right now. Right now everything is deeply fucked, and to willfully ignore it is either impossible or irresponsible. The last thing I need is the NFL trotting out a showy display of allegiance both to the flag and its own, relentless tunnel vision. The whole thing feels tone deaf at best and passive-aggressive at worst... a tacit demand that you sit there and adore all this pageantry, or else."I can't quite bring myself to say that it all feels wrong this year; a few hours of frivolous fun is crucial to self-care. But I know that it's not right, either. There will be pageantry, the kind that pretends everything is okay. That everything is normal. And that's great, necessary even, when it comes at a moment in which we all need to be told that everything will be okay. But in this moment, everything is not okay. None of this is normal. The most important thing we can do this year is remember that.
Watch the game. I will. But in the down moments, (during commercials, if the score gets out of hand, while Joe Buck is throwing up on America between plays) plan your calls to your representatives, make some donations, and keep on top of the news. Because something will happen. What better time to make something truly horrifying happen than in the middle of the biggest TV event of the year. Recall that the Muslim Ban was announced on a Friday night.
I've said before that I love sports because they're not important. And that remains true. In the face of so much importance, in a world that's dangerously low on trivialities, we find ourselves fighting a two front war: to preserve our stupid distractions, while also remembering where they rate. And if we stay strong, if we resist, one day we can go back to enjoying our distractions like we deserve to. We can have our frivolous things again. I promise.