Debby Downer (Superbowl Edition)

My parents have bought season tickets to Ohio State University football for decades. My husband was a ball boy for the Cleveland Browns, a gig he scored in part because his mother and grandmother worked for the organization. I was in the marching band and attended forty-one high school football games (forty regular season and one extremely cold post-season game in which my high school lost to Ben's high school).

It would be so much easier if I liked football. But I don't. I never have. I did not pay attention to a single play in a single one of those forty-one high school games. I finally learned the basic rules when  Ben and I went to a Browns game in San Francisco because we spent so much on the tickets I could not justifying knitting through the game.

Two very compelling articles have given my general dislike of football a little more muscle. The first, written by Benjamin Dueholm (an ambivalent fan of the game) for the Christian Century, explores the violence of the game:
 An analogy is sometimes made between football and gladiatorial combat—typically by those who defend and romanticize the game. It’s an analogy that should provoke reflection by Christians. The ancient Christian critique of the Roman spectacles—which included gladiatorial combat, athletic contests and drama—focused on three things: the physical harm to the contestants, the moral harm to the spectators, and the pagan cultic ritual that surrounded the shows. Reading such critiques today raises analogous questions for Christians who participate in the modern football industry.
The second article, by Matthew Vos, was just published by Comment Magazine the other day, and considers the Superbowl in particular as a "theology of women":
I wonder how we, as the people of God, might counternarrate the Super Bowl—this iconic event so disturbingly representative of what counts as sacred in our culture. In a way, our collective witness in the midst of this nation-defining event—the story we tell outside of church—is so much more important than the story we tell inside of church. For this outside story bears witness to our inside story. Will we imagine women in the way Doritos does? Will we pretend that we can simply mentally dismiss particular components of the Super Bowl "package" and in this way resist its hegemonic control? Or will we provide a compelling and alternative story about what it means to be image-bearers, in physical bodies, who live for a different sort of world.
I probably wouldn't have been watching the Superbowl anyway; for the last couple years I haven't even been terribly interested in the commercials (which, according to Vos, are a huge part of the problem). I get it that it is a beloved social gathering for many - a secular holiday of sorts. I won't judge you for joining in. But I'm going to keep saying thanks, but no thanks.

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