Wishing for a Super Bowl that Promotes Non-Violence


It’s been a tough year for the National Football League. There was renewed emphasis (for a while) on the devastating brain damage caused by repeated concussions. Then there was the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. And then there was the Adrian Peterson child abuse incident. And now there’s the Aaron Hernandez trial for murder and weapons charges that started a couple days ago. All these scandals added up to big, bad publicity . . . so much so that the Fiscal Times noted in a recent headline that these incidents “Rocked the NFL.”

Then there was deflate-gate, the ridiculousness that led us to wonder if our football heroes might just be a bunch of cheats.

But wait.

Through all these scandals the NFL has continued laughing its way to the Bank with obscene gobs of money that could be used to wipe out Ebola or end child abuse. Last year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made about $44 million. Vegas odds are that he’ll do better this year. Super Bowl advertisings are doing just fine, thank-you. And Katy Perry may or may not have a wardrobe malfunction tomorrow evening, but you can bet there will be millions of viewers. The NFL is right on pace to increase its economic worth to something well over being a $9 billion dollar industry. Not bad. Talk about Teflon.

It’s clear the situation is hopeless and that the Juggernaut that is the NFL will stroll into the future without substantially addressing anything that might be remotely linked to a social virtue. Nevertheless, I can’t stop cheering for underdogs, and that leaves me with an array of dreams that are so silly that I’m embarrassed to admit them. That said, I’ll go ahead and embrace my embarrassment and tell you what I’m watching for tomorrow.

I’ll be watching to see how many advertising bucks are used to promote domestic violence or child abuse prevention. Will we see NFL players, coaches, owners, and the commissioner go on record to support sexual assault prevention? Might there be room for the tiniest of sprinklings of valuable educational public service announcements during the four hour Super Bowl feast?

I think not; but I hold out hope.

And here’s my biggest irrational wish. I’m wishing for the NFL to provide educational information about the dangers of corporal punishment. Adrian Peterson said something to the effect that all he did was send his kiddo out to get a stick so he could beat him with it, just like his Momma did to him. Peterson was talking about our great American tradition of believing that it’s a good thing for parents to hit their children.

Even more disturbing than the single Adrian Peterson incident is the fact that during a typical 4 hour time period (about the length of the Super Bowl broadcast) there are approximately 1,500 reports of child abuse . . . and so maybe, just maybe, we could use a little NFL-sponsored education here.

But what really smacks my pigskin is the fact that Adrian Peterson’s parenting philosophy is still alive and well on the internet. In particular, it’s featured on the website of Christian “parenting expert” James Dobson. Seriously. It’s on a Christian-based website. This is stunning not only because there’s a truckload of science telling us that hitting kids is linked to bad outcomes, but also because it’s pretty difficult to imagine the Jesus that I read about in the Bible hitting children with a stick . . . or advocating the hitting of children with a stick.

Now that it’s the 21st century and time for Super Bowl XLIX, shouldn’t we know better? Shouldn’t we know that we shouldn’t send our kids out to get sticks so we can beat them? Come on NFL . . . just share that fun fact. Just come out and say you don’t support beating children . . . and how about you take 0.001% of your net worth and use it to launch an educational campaign that will teach parents what to do instead of hitting kids.

That’s what I’ll be watching for tomorrow . . . if I can manage to stomach turning on the game at all.

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6 thoughts on “Wishing for a Super Bowl that Promotes Non-Violence”

  1. Nicely said. I’m sharing on my Facebook page in hopes that many more will read. Thank you for putting my sentiments into words so eloquently.

  2. thanks, John, and I am with you on almost all points. There will be an ad anti cdv during the game I am told.
    Also, after watching the Honors for the NFL live TV show last night there were examples of at least three players who are doing good work in many ways with young people and in communities. There are many more individuals who are doing so, too. Players who remembering where they came from and who helped along the way are making major efforts to “give back.” While I am appaled with the amount of money in the NFL and that they are not sharing it in ways you suggest, there are those who are decent and giving folks who are just going to work and doing their jobs, and in the case of almost any career pursuit, there are good apples and bad apples. As the recipient of the “good guy” award last night, linebacker Davis of the Panthers, all of the NFL is not bad. Some folks just got caught at doing something that is not acceptable by society at large. While we’re at it, let’s put Ultimate Fighting in that same venue of creating violence in our society. And what of wrestling…
    and so many other media “entertainment” that in no way role models how we should be living our lives. I keep remembering that it is not the sport, nor the knife, nor the gun that are the wrongdoers. It is the people. We people.
    Thanks.
    Jim R. Rogers, M.Ed. Parenting and Family LIfe Educator, CFLE

    1. IMHO, you’re absolutely right Jim. As a former college football player and supporter of athletics, I do recognize how many individual players, coaches, etc., who are doing excellent work. I’m just hoping it will spread and grow and create more advocacy for non-violence.

      Thanks very much for taking the time to write. I appreciate it.

      Happy Super Bowl Sunday:)

      John SF

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