I am not watching the Super Bowl. It has become a corporate spectacle. Commercials take top billing and the show has become bigger than the game.
I played all sports as a child and enjoyed it. I enjoyed the games, the competition, the physical exertion. I enjoyed the teamwork and the effort it took to make a team work. But over the years this became corrupted.
For me, sports began its downhill trend when adults became involved. At 8 years old I started playing organized baseball. At 10 it was Biddy Basketball, at 13 began CYO football. It didn’t take long for me to notice that some of the men coaching were over-invested in these kids’ games. They yelled, they demanded things; they forced the game upon us. I didn’t like that and each year it got worse.
As I moved up the athletic ranks I started playing for men whose job depended on the success of the team. That’s when sports really got ugly. I understand that. If my job depended on a bunch of teenage boys, I’d be anxious and worried about my future. I can understand the frustrations coaches must feel but I was never comfortable with the yelling and the demeaning language they used.
I stayed with sports through high school because it was expected and once I made a commitment I was also expected to see it through. But when high school ended I was so relieved. I never wanted to play organized sports again.
Then I was made an offer I could not refuse – free school in exchange for four more years. I am not from a wealthy family. I really didn’t have a choice. I went, I played and I stayed the four more years until graduation. It was a surreal experience surrounded by patriots, guys who’d cut off their arm for the coach and me just working it like a job.
After my playing days ended I was a spectator for years, but each year less so. As professional sports became popular, large amounts of money became involved and money corrupts. Then before I noticed, college coaches were getting millions of dollars; high school coaches were getting offered college jobs if they could bring their star player with them. The whole thing exploded. Now professional athletes make more money than God, and thus walk around acting like one.
Add the violence, the domestic abuse, the “second chances,” the politicizing of protest, the list of disgusting acts ever continues.
It also bothers me that teams actually “own” players. Players can be dismissed, sold or traded like any other chattel. As rich as these players may feel, how rich can you be if someone else owns you?
With the big money in sports came the corporate sponsors, came the fancy suites, came the high prices for tickets. When I was a kid, my dad, a steel mill worker, was able to take the whole family of eight to see a game. Today, I have to think twice about spending several hundred dollars just so my wife and I can go.
It’s just too much for me. The activity that was fun as a kid grew to be a money-making monster and I don’t like it. Players often appear to be rich, spoiled, brats. Coaches are angrier and more demanding than ever, at all levels. Owners are plantation masters.
I realize no one is going care that I am not watching the Super Bowl. For many it is a great excuse for a party. The day after should be a national holiday (hangover day). But for me it’s just not fun any more. Maybe it hasn’t been since the adults became involved.
Gabriel A. Fraire has been a writer more than 45 years. He can be reached through his website at gabrielfraire.com