Why I won't watch the Super Bowl

Every year around the time of the Super Bowl, I wonder if I’m ever going to bother to learn the rules of American football. I suspect not, since at age 48 I’ve never made it through an entire game start-to-finish.

Mostly, I don’t really care for the game because it conjures up bad memories from school days.

Passive consumption

Now, as an adult, what really bothers me about football, is that the only real way to enjoy the game is by passively consuming it. No one except for professionals actually plays the game. Instead, we sit on the sofa, watch the game on the television, analyze the plays and the outcomes, and buy team colors and paraphernalia. All without actually do anything of value.

The world and individuals progress by doing something. Watching isn’t doing.

Spectacle as commercial vehicle. Buying fans

The phenomenon of the Super Bowl commercial has elevated the event to near holiday status. Many people who would not otherwise watch football, tune in to the Super Bowl solely to see the clever, creative commercials.[1] That companies collectively spend over $220 million[2] on television ads suggests that the association between the game and the marketing of products and services unrelated to the game is no accident. But this alliance benefits no one but the companies themselves. In a sense, the football game itself, which should be a celebration and test of athletic accomplishment, is merely a vehicle for delivering something more potent. Like the cigarette which exists only to deliver nicotine, the Super Bowl exists mostly to deliver marketing.

Opportunity costs

The saddest thing about the Super Bowl is the number of lost opportunities when money could be better spent. Americans spend about $1 billion each year on Super Bowl snacks. About 4 million Americans plan to buy a new television set before the Super Bowl game to enhance their viewing experience. Hint, it won’t be a smaller one; and the one it replaces will undoubtedly end up in a landfill somewhere.

With the $1 billion that we spend on Super Bowl snacks each year, we could provide foor to over 3 million starving children for nearly a year.

Or, we could provide safe, clean drinking water to 50 million people in impoverished countries.

We’re fond of wringing our hands about constrained resources and that we can’t pay for universal health care or take care of our public infrastructure. But we can come together for a day and spend a billion dollars on crappy food, $220 million on ads, pay millions in salaries for football players, etc.? Something’s wrong with this picture.


  1. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/football-part-super-bowl-article-1.1597013#ixzz2sCm31n65 Fewer than half of respondents watch the game solely for the game itself; and over 25% watch the Super Bowl solely for the commercials.

  2. http://www.examiner.com/article/how-much-money-did-cbs-make-from-2013-super-bowl-ads-try-220-million According to sources, 55 ads aired during the last Super Bowl at about $4 million for each 30 second slot.