Monday, May 16, 2022|
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America, today we’re asking for something this nation’s sports fans are not always noted for: restraint.
On Sunday, the National Football League’s 55th championship game, Super Bowl LV (arguably the most costly and pretentious event this side of an LV handbag), will kick off.
But the really high-stakes action won’t be in the socially distanced “Ray-Jay” stadium, which is hosting thousands of vaccinated health care workers, incidentally, but in gathering places throughout the country where average, vaccine-free fans will party and potentially turn this year’s game into Superspreader Bowl I.
That’s right, none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci has put the word out that this is not the year to gather in bars or restaurants or with neighbors or friends or even with relatives who don’t live under the same roof. This is the year to “lay low and cool it.”
Just as major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas caused significant spikes in COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations and deaths, it would be foolish to attend a mixed household gathering, where intoxication, shouting and cheering might break out.
How often does a sporting event come with medical advice for fans?
Luckily for public health officials, this Super Bowl has something going for it that should help diminish public enthusiasm. To cheer for a team in 2021 requires the spectator to:
One, either root for last year’s Super Bowl winner to win again, thus rewarding a team called the “Chiefs” that uses the “tomahawk chop” — two traditions that have so offended Native American groups they’ve paid for protest billboards in Kansas City.
Or, two, to cheer for Tom Brady, the former New England Patriots quarterback appearing in his 10th Super Bowl, who is associated with not one but two cheating scandals, who is married to a supermodel, who stands for no particular cause beyond his own brand and who is very, very good at playing his position despite being 43 years old (or 301 in dog years).
And so, Super Bowl LV gives us an extraordinary opportunity to not care very much.
Perhaps sensing this moment of “meh,” some major brands such as Coca-Cola and Budweiser decided not to run a commercial during the game. And even those that have (the TV audience is still expected to be huge, after all), admit they struggled with the proper tone of their pitches: Is funny appropriate? Is being too serious? Too inspirational? All of which contributes to this sense that whatever happens Sunday, it’s going to be historic but not necessarily as much fun as in the past.
During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (and with World War I raging on), Major League Baseball pushed on with a World Series that was later described as “joyless.”
Still, there’s something to be said for shared entertainment as the vaccine rollout continues to more closely resemble the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976 (long argued as the worst team in NFL history), than the MMXXI model with Brady (grrr) behind center. The nagging concern now is that the 2020 NFL football season won’t be the only asterisk-laden one: The prospects for the fall aren’t looking so great either.
So we can surely forgive adults who might be inclined to consume one or two alcoholic beverages during the big game. We’ve earned at least that.
— The Baltimore Sun
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