Fuck the Super Bowl

It’s Super Bowl day. Normally I get to ignore this, which is how I like it, but ignoring it is not possible this year as it was not possible last year, because the team based in the city where I live is in it, as it was last year. In the god damn Super Bowl. The Seattle team is in it, for the second year in a row, and “the fans” won’t let anyone forget it. There are footballteam-patriotism decals EVERYWHERE – literally. You can’t go anywhere on foot or by bus or car without seeing them constantly. They’re hung in windows, on the external walls of buildings, on car antennas; they’re on gigantic flags flown from the Space Needle, downtown buildings, houses. Even the god damn buses have their electronic destination signs programmed to flash the name and logo of the team in between the destination names.

This pisses me off.

It’s bossy and intrusive and coercive. I don’t share the enthusiasm for football, and they shouldn’t be forcing it on me. This is partly just that it bores me and I don’t personally like it, yes, but it’s not only that. There’s a lot wrong with football itself or/and with the passion for it. It’s violent, for a start; not incidentally violent but violent as part of the game itself. It causes head injuries, which the NFL has concealed and lied about for years. It has a rape problem. It sucks up money and resources and attention that would be better used elsewhere. It’s exceptionally male and macho, and thus hostile to women. It’s used to make boys who don’t like it and/or aren’t physically built to play it feel inferior…and weak and girly, which, again, is hostile to women. It’s not some harmless neutral Fun Thing; it’s way more than that, and most of the more is bad stuff.

So, this xkcd is crap.

Super Bowl


If it were some weirdo sport I could see the point. But football? Give me a break. It’s not the case that people who don’t care about football have power over people who do care about football. I wish – if I did have power I would make everyone take those stinking flags down. No. Football is power; it’s all about power; it shouts power the second the players run onto the field looking like tanks with legs.

I hope the Patriots win. I detest football patriotism, so I hope the Patriots win.


  1. says

    Ah yes, I’ve been meaning to read that Steve Almond book too. [makes another note about it]

    Well, Eamon, there’s nothing like having the local team in The Big Event for concentrating the mind.

    But for real of course there’s been a lot of…Stuff coming out about football over the same time period.

  2. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    As Ophelia says, football is so damned intrusive here.

    When I lived in New York and the Giants were doing well, the buses didn’t have “Go Giants!” on their destination signs, and people weren’t saying “Go Giants!” instead of “hello” or “have a nice day.” There weren’t fountains dyed in the team colors. (No, really. It’s a nice blue, but really, a bit excessive.) Buses weren’t skipping stops near the airport so people could wave at the football team on their way to the Super Bowl.

    This isn’t sports as hobby, it’s sports as state religion.

  3. says

    I’ve read Against Football. The best aspect is that Almond calls out fans on their attempt to condemn the multiple terrible aspects of the sport/NFL while watching and attending the games and so contributing to it. If you don’t have time to get to the book, he makes the same argument in the Book TV talk (which is what led me to read the book).

  4. RJW says

    Yes, Ophelia, I understand, I grew up in a city where most of the population is infected with football mania for about half the year. It’s a different type of ‘football’ but the symptoms are very similar, particularly the violent and sexually predatory behavior by some players.
    We need more bread and fewer circuses that are subsidised directly or indirectly by the taxpayers.

  5. Brett says

    I’m not a football fan, but I tend to find the excessive team spirit pleasant or neutral. I don’t want to write about that though, because even though I disagree I don’t care much (definitely not as much as the people are are bothered and inconvenienced by it).

    The XKCD thing is different though. I don’t know if you just don’t know anything about the cartoon, but your representation of it was pretty unfair. The context the author is coming from is sub-culture where sports and being a fan of sports are looked down on. It’s a combination of rebellion against the shaming you described in your post (the hyper-masculine stuff), and intellectual elitism. This cartoon is arguing for letting people be themselves and acceptance of people with minority tastes. (I want to note that I’m not defending nerd culture with this AT ALL. It has it’s own terrible problems. Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is exaggerated, but not as exaggerated as you might think)

  6. says

    I’ve found that there is exactly one positive aspect to the super bowl, especially here close to Seattle, last year and this year: the streets will be deserted and the stores will be empty. So I’m planning on getting all those chores done that I’ve been avoiding doing because there would be no parking, crowds, long waiting lines, etc.

  7. quixote says

    Exactly. Thanks for a breath of sanity!

    When people get in my face and want to know, “Oh but why don’t you like football?” I start explaining. Sexism, more sexism, sexism larded on sexism, and the cheerleaders who are essential to celebrating that aren’t even paid properly! The response is often along the lines of “Oh lighten up. It’s only a game.”

    That’s true. So why not cut all the violence and power and sexism and machismo and crap out of it and just have fun?

    Apparently it’s not that much of a game.

  8. Vincent says

    Every time friends tell me there is a game between my country (‘s unelected team) and and another county (‘s unelected team), I ask them which team they support, and that pisses them off.

    I wish there was a world cup for unemployment rate, literacy or irreligiosity. I would somehow care. Because I would somehow play.

  9. PatrickG says

    Sentiment echoed, which is why I’m glad the 49ers (apparently) suck.

    Of course, the whinging about Kaepernick’s failings are almost equally prevalent as the rah-rahing that would be present if the 49ers were doing well. To the point that I know who Kaepernick is. Me!

  10. The Letter K says

    Ugh, yes. Yes to everything you said. The bus destination signs have been especially pissing me off recently; I need to know which bus this is and where it’s headed, not yet another remind of Seattle’s damned sportsball enthusiasm. The relentlessness of which over the last entire fucking year is a big part of what’s making the current fervor so insufferable. If people could at least arrange to shut up about it when it’s not football season, I might be a bit less tired of all the “Go Local Team!” crap.

  11. says

    So yeah, let’s talk about Washington State’s relationship and history with sports…

    Everybody here went nuts about the Huskies or Cougars. It used to be that, instead of blue and green (which is actually a relatively recent color scheme for the Seahawks), you would see purple or red everywhere – the respective colors of the college football teams. You would see purple/white husky head logos, or the letters “WSU” trying really hard to look like a cougar head.

    At some point, this morphed into Mariners craze. I remember it as Ken Griffey Jr. igniting a lot of this, and then extending into this guy that people started calling “The Unit”? I don’t know, Randy Johnson I think? I had joined the military shortly after this all took off, so I missed a lot of the overbearing excitement.

    And then the Seahawks somehow got good. They had never been good before, but they got good, and their marketing campaign reinvented itself (Or maybe it was the marketing first and then they got good? I don’t know.) Now it’s all you ever hear about.

    Somewhere after the Seahawks took off, Seattle lost the SuperSonics, and sports fans were shitting themselves over the fact that the city wouldn’t allow the team’s owner to extort it (and there were a lot of politicians who were entirely on board with being extorted).

    Anyways, I’m bringing all this up because nobody here fucking knows, or cares, about the WNBA Seattle Storms, a highly successful professional sports team composed of women.

    Through all of this, I have NEVER seen the Puget Sound as thoroughly saturated with the sports craze as it is now. I don’t really care about any of the sports, but the Seahawks thing is almost literally everywhere here. I’ve never cared one way or another for any of the teams winning or losing, yet I’m honestly hoping this craze dies down soon. It’s ridiculous.

  12. says


    Through all of this, I have NEVER seen the Puget Sound as thoroughly saturated with the sports craze as it is now. I don’t really care about any of the sports, but the Seahawks thing is almost literally everywhere here. I’ve never cared one way or another for any of the teams winning or losing, yet I’m honestly hoping this craze dies down soon. It’s ridiculous.

    Ditto this sentiment. Even up here in Bellingham, the irritating “12” flags flapping and the blue & green clothing are everywhere, and have been for the entire damn year. Even during the summer!

    And to think that I used to complain about christimas music starting the day after halloween.

  13. says

    @5: Well around here, of course, it’s not football, it’s hockey, and I live about three klicks from the local NHL venue (the headline sponsor of which has changed so often that spouse and I long ago just started calling it The Damned Hockey Rink, or DHR for short). Main significance to us is to avoid driving anywhere on game nights (because traffic through our suburb), but on the plus side there are a lot of decent local restaurants that probably wouldn’t be viable without the custom from game-goers.

    Re the religious aspect: A few years ago when home team made the playoffs, every local CBC announcer would end every damned segment with “Go Sens!” Our son remarked how much it reminded him of the Muslim obligation to say “Peace be upon him” every time the name of Mohammed was used.

  14. chigau (違う) says

    I may start saying “Peace be Upon Them” everytime someone invites me to enthuse about their favored spandex brigade.

  15. Omar Puhleez says

    All that about American football. OK. So have I heard and do in part believe it. (Horatio.)
    But can I put in a plug here for Australian Rules football?
    The high school I attended in Sydney had only two choices for winter sport. You could be good enough at tennis to qualify for one of the school’s doubles teams (about 15 players in all required), or you could play football (ie Rugby Union).
    It was murder, week after week; year after year. I was always having my ears rubbed off in the scrums. After about four years of this, the sportsmaster announced one day that the curriculum required that we play at least one game of Aussie Rules.
    That one game was the only game of football (of any code) that I ever actually enjoyed. In fact, it was a little glimpse of Paradise. Then it was back to Rugby Union for the term of our natural lives, or so it seemed.
    I am glad to see that Aussie Rules is gaining in popularity in the United States. I rate the codes in order of decreasing enjoyment:
    Aussie Rules
    Rugby League
    Rugby Union
    Never having played American football, I can only guess that it would fit in somewhere between the top and the bottom.

  16. says

    I’ve found that there is exactly one positive aspect to the super bowl, especially here close to Seattle, last year and this year: the streets will be deserted and the stores will be empty. So I’m planning on getting all those chores done that I’ve been avoiding doing because there would be no parking, crowds, long waiting lines, etc.


    Here’s my story, which I share even though it might give aid and comfort to the enemy. Or not. It’s maybe an American Football Story, of sorts.

    I was living in Boston when the Patriots played in the Superbowl in 2001. I went to the supermarket during the game for precisely that reason, and it was super-pleasant. But I was listening to the game on my headphones (of…ahem…my Walkman) even as I went through the checkout. This was because of Tebucky Jones. I remembered my father, in the late ‘90s when he was still alive and when Jones was drafted by the Patriots, passionately explaining how smart you had to be in Jones’ position and how promising he was as a player.

    My father was an educator but he and his family always excelled at and loved sports. He enjoyed women’s sports as much as he did men’s, knew as much about figure skating as he did about football, and rejected – without making a political issue of it – the sentiment that athletes were stupid.

    I don’t remember anything he explained about Jones or his position now, probably didn’t remember much in 2001, and might not have absorbed anything meaningful even at the time of his explanation. There were other sports I liked and that he and I watched together. But appreciating Jones’ work was sort of a way of bonding with my father even after he was gone, and that was important to me.

    And Jones was impressive in that game, which was probably the last I paid any attention to. Years later, I looked him up, and found an article about how he was back in his community and coaching his hometown team, which was nice to read. Now I see, on Wikipedia,

    On August 1, 2008, Jones was arrested at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut after he was accused of allegedly making “inappropriate contact” with a woman in the lobby, and then punched her boyfriend in the face when he got involved. [I don’t know if this is true, or what the relevant context is.]

    My connection to football is tenuous at best. But I, as a woman and someone who never loved the game itself, can understand people’s complicated relationships to it. I’ve come to hate football. And I miss and respect my father, who loved football, but maybe wouldn’t now. I wish he were alive so we could talk about it.

  17. Dave Ricks says

    Well this is a dilemma. I lived in New England so I’m against the Patriots. But Ophelia lives in Seattle so she’s against the Seahawks. Stacy’s right, even among fans this year, lots of people wish both teams could lose.

  18. Giacomo Boschi says

    I second Brett (comment #10). This xkcd comic is, at least as I understand it, against people who pitch in in a conversation just to let everyone know that they are not following footbool, they don’t care, don’t know anything about the rules, as if this is something that puts them above others. And xkcd is right: if for you football is not at all important, why do you talk about it so much? A similar cartoon was published by SMBC some time ago: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2512

    Criticism of football is another thing altoghether, I think that we all agree is totally legit, and I don’t think that this strip is against the fair criticism of anything.

  19. says

    @24: I can think of an analogy to make with atheists’ attitude to religion. But it’s midnight here and high time I was off to bed….

    I’m sure y’all (by which I mean: West Coastians, Asians, Down-Underians and Europeans (are there any Africa-based commenters on here?)) will have it all sorted out by the time I’m having my morning tea-and-surf ;-).

  20. says

    I so love this blog post! Some football fans treat the game as a mere pastime, just another recreational activity, but many of them have an attitude similar to that of religious people. In the same way that many Christians, for example, have the attitude that “everyone is a Christian, or at least they should be,” many football fans have the attitude that “everyone is a football fan, or at least they should be.” Many of them can’t just go off and enjoy their games without bothering anyone else about it. I don’t care about their bumper stickers, but if they can’t talk about anything else I’m not going to pretend that they’re not boring me. And then there are the apartment neighbors blasting their TVs and screaming at the top of their lungs when they watch the games. Plus the occasional fireworks and/or riots. And then there are the stadiums that all of the taxpayers have to pay for, because fans aren’t willing to foot the bill for their recreational activities all by themselves, and neither are the billionaire team owners who profit from the games. Such aggressive sports reflect the trashiness of our macho and militaristic culture.

  21. kyuss says

    Anyways, I’m bringing all this up because nobody here fucking knows, or cares, about the WNBA Seattle Storms, a highly successful professional sports team composed of women.

    That’s because the WNBA sucks. Why would you watch WNBA over any type of men’s basketball? If I am going to spend 3 hours watching professionals play a sport, I want to watch the best. WNBA players aren’t the best; they’re not even close.

  22. says

    I agree. I grew up in New England and went to school in Boston and remember dreading big sporting events every year because regardless of the outcome, we could expect the dorms to get trashed. When I call in to meetings at work, I can expect conversations about whatever sports event is big that time of year. Everywhere I go it seem pretty obvious that people expect me to have at least a some interest in sports especially if a local team is playing.

    I has the same reaction to xkcd. I also would say that I actually don’t like it when people feign interest in things I do that they genuinely aren’t interested in. I am a knitter and the sort of patronizing things people say when they are attempting to make small talk about it is rather tiresome and honestly, if someone isn’t interested, I’m totally fine with that. No one has to care about something I am excited about just because they like me.

    So no, I don’t think I owe it to sports fans to care about sports. I think friendships can withstand having different interests in some areas.

  23. goodarticle says

    I absolutely love this article and appreciate that other people detest fucking super bowls. I also agree that this form of entertainment is a waste of money. Money that could be used more wisely. For example the nations debt. Thanks for reading. God bless!


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