The Super Bowl is stupid and that’s what makes it great

PHOTO: Mike Mozart, Flickr CC-BY
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Mesabi Tribune.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the most uniquely American holiday of them all. Today we celebrate millionaires committing violence upon one another for the enrichment of billionaires. And it’s not even on CNBC! What a day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Super Bowl Sunday. Always have. Most people watch it, and I love things that most people watch. It gives you something to talk about besides the weather. I also like feeling like we’re all doing something together, even though every house where the game flickers against the window shades becomes its own unique island of insanity. 

“The kick is up!” And in Rome, Georgia, some kid has explosive diarrhea in the foyer. (Is the kick good? They’ll never know). 

“He’s loose! Making a dash for the end zone …” And in Brookings, South Dakota, dad cusses when he drops parts of the gun he was cleaning on the old shag carpet. (Did he score? We best wait to find out until dad finds his firing pin). 

Plus, social media sites like Twitter give us a way to enjoy the same stupid things together. We need more stupid things that we all do together, even if we hate them. That’s how families work and it might just work for the country, too. 

But we must truly understand, and never forget, the mad stupidity of it all. Pregame ceremony celebrates American values, but most Americans can’t afford to attend. The game is an elaborate excuse to run commercials that each cost more than an elementary school. The halftime show is always a mix of flash-in-the-pan pop stars six months past peak and an aging icon poured into a spangled outfit perhaps for the last time. And they’re the ones working for free. 

In older days, the religious high holidays provided the unity people sought. Now we live in more secular times when people find it hard to agree.

Hey, you want secular? The Super Bowl is so secular that the nine-hour pregame telecast and actual football game typically glorify all seven deadly sins and break the full roster of commandments before halftime. They literally scheduled the game on a Sunday, the way Christians co-opted pagan holidays during the Roman Empire. Even if they opened with a prayer, it would conclude with “By Mennen” instead of “Amen.”

(OK, I’ve since learned that they don’t use the “By Mennen” ad schtick anymore, not since the ‘90s, but the point stands). 

At least CBS will broadcast this year’s Super Bowl. That means the announcers won’t be Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Fox. You ever have a boss who struggled to relate to people? You ever get stuck on a long car ride or at a table with them? Watching a Buck/Aikman game is like watching two such bosses talking to each other for three or more hours. 

And you know what? They’re the best there is, according to the people in charge.

Don’t ask who’s in charge. That’s not what this is about. This is about chips and dip, and warbly high notes during the national anthem. This is about funny ads for companies we didn’t know existed and soon won’t.

In short, the Super Bowl is everything great and terrible about America and we best embrace all of it, because what comes next is fighting for bags of seed potatoes with hand tools and crossbows. 

Don’t just watch for yourself. Watch for all the people who can’t, because they’re working the late shift or binging meth or Netflix. Watch for America. We’re stupid, yes, but also crazy. The lights are so bright and the ball is shaped like a prolate spheroid, which is something I had to look up, for reasons that are never explained.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. The day when we are finally united. And even thought the outcome is so profoundly unimportant, it gives us hope — however fleeting — that we could unite for important causes at some point in the future, an auspicious reverie obscured by dry ice fog and Cheeto dust.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.



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