The Denver Broncos aren’t playing in the “big game” this year. Hell, they didn’t even make the stupid playoffs. It’s perfectly sensible that the whole state of Colorado’s eagerness for Super Bowl LI is somewhat subdued this year. We had our moment in the sun with Super Bowl 50 and now there’s understandable drop-off in interest for a game that features the hated Patriots and the sort of milk-toast Atlanta Falcons. Still, it’s the Super Bowl - truly a tradition like no other - the singular sporting event of the year - America’s game - the athletic equivalent of Christmas. A shrinking of interest is one thing. I can hardly find anybody to watch the damn game with and I blame Trump.
These are some actual responses I have gotten from friends as I have worked to formulate my own Super Bowl viewing plans: “Honestly, man, I just don’t care this year.” / “Sorry, bro. I’m going skiing.” / “We’re hoping Ikea will be dead” / “I dunno, I’m playing hockey. I may watch some of it.”
What my friends (and yours) aren’t articulating is that their interest in the Super Bowl is deadened by the reality of what is happening to our country. Our culture is in shock. People are bewildered and upset over the election of Donald Trump and his haphazard behavior since he took office. They’re completely freaked out Muslim ban and by executive orders promising to strip away any and all perceived progress America has made in terms of social justice, the environment, the women’s movement and race relations.
Since Trump’s awkward inauguration Americans have woken up each morning wondering what that crazy bastard is going to do next. We’ve been introduced to the concept of alternative facts, seen the news media bruised and abused and learned about such fictitious occurrences as the Bowling Green Massacre. We’ve seen our standing in the world deflated and our reputation as a model nation slathered in greasy mud. We watch in horror as our Commander-In-Chief engages in Twitter battles with world leaders and news agencies and generally behaves like a spoiled child. As horrible as folks thought a Trump presidency may be he has managed to make it even worse.
Even some of Trump’s supporters are dazed.
Indifference for the upcoming game isn’t isolated to Colorado. It’s hard for people from coast to coast to muster enthusiasm for a big ol’ America party right now. And that’s just what the Super Bowl is. It celebrates our “bigness” in the flashiest most slickly-produced way possible while showcasing our biggest, baddest most macho athletes in a bone-crushing ballet of brashness and braggadocious-ness backdropped by screaming eagles and a big-ass waving flag.
The Super Bowl is the ultimate display of our dominance as a nation and frankly that’s something most people aren’t in the mood to celebrate right now. We feel the realness of what the game represents slipping away and that makes many of us want to turn away. And it doesn’t help to know that many of the rich white guys behind the NFL threw their support behind that awful man. Tom Brady himself was seen sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap during the season. Meanwhile, his head coach is a known Trump supporter along with pretty much every white player and coach in the league. A Washington Post poll, in fact, found that 100% of white players that responded supported Trump. We can’t even watch the big game without being confronted by the divide on our country. It’s no wonder so many people seem to be lacking an appetite for it.
I’m going to watch the Super Bowl, don’t get me wrong. But I am having a tough time finding people to watch it with. For me it’s the last chance I will have to watch football for the next many months. I love football. But to many of my friends (and yours) this is a difficult time for the indulgence that football represents. It’s a game that reflects a national pride that, to put it in football terms, is in concussion protocol.