Above, Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning (left); Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (right).
Today, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks football franchises will participate in the 48th playing of the National Football League’s Super Bowl.
Most Americans will watching, indulging in the ultimate national opiate. Few understand what has happened to the country since the first championship game was held in 1967.
An awful lot has changed since the first playing of the Super Bowl on January 15, 1967, when Bart Starr led the Green Bay Packers against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that didn’t even sell out.
Would even one of the fans then sitting in the Los Angeles Coliseum have believed that the same venue would see the US national soccer team booed in favor of the Mexican —or that a Los Angeles Times columnist would praise this development? [Again, it's red, white and boo, By Bill Plaschke, June 26, 2011]
Would even one fan believe that an elite academic institution, Stanford University, would not only willingly abandon the teaching of Western Civilization course required of all freshmen (“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western culture’s got to go…”—Jesse Jackson), but consider Richard Sherman’s worthy of admission despite his low SAT score just because he runs an above-average 40 time?
How could you convince those fans, who had casually strolled into a stadium with almost no security, that to enter Super Bowl 48, they’d be subjected to an invasive search of their person, presumed a potentially terrorist threat until deemed innocent and worthy to enter the stadium?
More than 30 federal agencies, 100 law enforcement agencies, 700 state troopers, 3,000 private security officers, snipers hidden on among the crowd, US Army Black Hawk attack helicopters enforcing a 10-mile “no fly zone” around the stadium, and US Air Force F-16s on emergency stand-by will protect this XLVIII playing of the Super Bowl.
The America of 1967, when the first Super Bowl was played, was 90 percent white, bursting with social capital and upward mobility for its citizens. But, thanks to the 1965 Immigration Act and the simultaneous collapse of immigration enforcement, the America of 2014 is a country where the majority of births are non-white, the middle class is shrinking—and the state of social capital is devastatingly summed up by the Police State measures required to ensure the safety of a football game.
Fans with tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl can’t even tailgate outside MetLife Stadium. [No tailgating at Super Bowl, By Jane McManus, ESPN, December 9, 2013] You can’t even walk to the stadium, with the NFL devising “Fan Express Zones” (at a cost $51 per ride), where you can board a bus and be shuttled to and from the Broncos-Seahawks game. [You Can’t Walk to the Super Bowl Because You Are the NFL’s Personal ATM, By Sean Conboy, Sports Illustrated, January 28, 2014]
What would one of those 1967 fans have thought if they’d be able to see Super Bowl 48? (Mind you, the number of black players on the field in that first game resembles the number of white players on the field in today’s game.)
You don’t have to be InfoWars.com’s Alex Jones to understand something is seriously wrong, as police state measures are implemented not just in the NFL and at the Super Bowl, but across all of America. [NFL wants pat-downs from ankles up at all stadiums, USA Today, September 15 2011]
Jones, whose webzine is one of the fastest growing media organizations precisely because so many Americans are becoming increasingly worried about their freedoms, has called for a boycott of the NFL, arguing that the league’s TSA-style security at stadiums is just another way of conditioning fans to accept the encroaching police state. [NFL Faces National Protest, Infowars.com, December 4, 2013]
Purses and backpacks have been banned from games, with the Department of Homeland Security providing a stamp of approval for the NFL’s safety measures. [NFL Bans Purses and Backpacks, Limits Fans to One Gallon-Sized Baggie, By Zenon Evans, Reason, August 6, 2013]
Jones noted, in announcing his decision to call for a boycott of the NFL, that the league vetoed a Super Bowl commercial by rifle manufacturer Daniel Defense:
The company’s “offensive” ad depicts a former marine arriving home to greet his wife and child, accompanied by a voice over stating, “no one has the right to tell me how to defend them.” The ad supposedly violates the NFL’s advertising guidelines, which bar ads featuring “firearms, ammunition or other weapons,” even though the ad doesn’t actually show any of the above, aside from an illustration of their popular DDM4 rifle featured below Daniel Defense’s logo. [National Movement to Boycott NFL Launched: Pro-Obamacare NFL launches war on Second Amendment, InfoWars.com, December 4, 2013]
How could you tell the America of John Wayne that, one day, several U.S. states would be waging war with the 2nd Amendment and that the NFL—with Bob Costas of NBC’s Football Night in America leading the way—would be an active participant?
Some fear the NFL’s Police-State measures amount to something far more pernicious: The NFL’s Role In the Coming Martial Law, By Dave Hodges, Lew Rockwell.com, December 10, 2013]
But 2014 America is radically different from 1967 America precisely because of the racial composition of the country. With such drastic changes, the social capital that once held the country together is in short supply. And with such changes come consequences.
What was it The Economist just published about diversity? Something about the downside of diversity based on research on “ambient cultural disharmony” by Roy Y.J .Chua, of Harvard Business School, I believe:
Tension between people over matters of culture, he says, can pollute the wider environment and reduce “multicultural creativity”, meaning people’s ability to see non-obvious connections between ideas from different cultures. “Ambient cultural disharmony” persuades people to give up on making such connections because they conclude that it is not worth the trouble. The downside of diversity, January 21, 2014]
The security measures required at Super Bowl 48 are a metaphor for the changes in America. A Police State is required to keep the peace in—to paraphrase Chua—the “polluted wider environment created by tension between people over matters of culture”?
There were plenty of seats available at the first Super Bowl in 1967, when America was a homogeneous nation of European-descended people.
Symmetrically, there apparently will be plenty of seats available (“18,000 Super Bowl Seats Still Available”) for the 48th version of the game as well, now that the US is an increasingly heterogeneous empire, with a Police State required to hold it together.
Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White and Second City Confidential: The Black Experience in Chicagoland. His latest book is The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2013.