I enjoy Super Bowl Sunday. I enjoy the festive atmosphere. I enjoy the chicken wings, pizza and libations. I enjoy watching great athletes performing great physical feats. I enjoy being with friends. I enjoy the commercials. And when you throw in the cheerleaders, rock bands and wardrobe malfunctions, Super Bowl Sunday seems to be the best single event the terrestrial world has to offer.
Even as a spiritual writer, I find that Super Bowl Sunday offers me real mental recreation and sanctuary from the difficult problems and various crises in the world. The entertainment of Super Bowl Sunday offers the real and very tangible benefit of recharging our batteries.
However, at times when I am not caught up in the hoopla, I will reflect on the spiritual significance of all this. Because inherent in the Super Bowl we can find a microcosm of the human predicament.
For one, most viewers will take sides—running the range from good-natured feelings to hostility and rage. Some viewers will drink and cheer while others will drink and throw their beer bottle at the TV screen. Some viewers will lose or make money on bets.
The athletes on the field are paid to knock each other’s heads off and inflict real pain. And many of them have become millionaires doing it. The average fan, who is constantly challenged to acquire new skills just to stay employed or stay “hireable” must reconcile the fact that what the world values most is not their God-given talents. But the hypnotic spell of Super Bowl Sunday transforms this cruel reality and ontological unfairness into something to be celebrated. A fan’s self-esteem can even become magically tied to the fortunes of his or her team rather than one’s intrinsic self-worth.
Then salt is thrown into the wound of this fan’s lowered self-esteem by the threatened lockout between owners and players over the issue of salaries. Here, the sports fan is forced to humbly watch millionaires arguing with billionaires at a time of worldwide financial crisis and unemployment.
Money only travels in the direction that people place the most value in. You can see what kinds of things the world values most by where people spend their time and money. So if the world seems unfair it is actually the result of the poor choices we make. For the world to change, values must change. And for values to change, the human heart must change (this is the essence of all true religion).
Make no mistake. I will enjoy this Sunday’s Super Bowl. But then I will get back to the business of helping people to play a more important role in the world and increase their cosmic value in God’s universe. Who knows, maybe someday the world will see good people as the new superstars. They certainly would be the only ones with the talent to bring real positive change to this troubled planet of ours.