Sunday, February 1, 2015

Of Super Bowls and Sanitation Workers

We have boycotted the Super Bowl this year, the culmination of boycotting all NFL games on television this year.

We discussed it as a family and voted not to support professional football.

Because of concussions.

Because of indifference to domestic abuse.

Because of cheating.

Because of greed.

And so, over lunch today after church (at the fish restaurant, Gommie!  And your char was on the menu.  You can go again in less than 2 weeks!!), we discussed the Super Bowl.  The kids had discussed in RE (religious education) how some jobs get overlooked, the workers ignored--like sanitation workers and postal workers.

And so I asked them, which job is more important to us on a daily basis:  Super Bowl quarterback or garbage man?  Which would we notice more if they quit working tomorrow?  Who helps society more?

And what do they get paid?

Making up numbers, for perspective, we averaged sanitation workers got $15/hour while the quarterback could make $50 million via contract.

Why?

Because in reality, the quarterback makes so much money for so many other people, namely the owners and the NFL and the merchandisers, who then don't care much about the players except to exploit them as money-makers.  Who does the garbage man make money for?  Nobody.  And so, who is "worth" more?

What is worth?  What is value?  What is important?

We acknowledged that nothing we could do would ever change the relationship of NFL salaries to sanitation workers, pop stars to teachers, movie stars to physical therapists.  But we wanted the kiddos to be aware of the discrepancies, to look where the money is, to see through the consumerism and the merchandising and the capitalism, to examine the dominant or majority or popular opinion.  To question it.

To not watch the Super Bowl when tens of millions of people were.

And so Bud rearranged his Lego Lord of the Rings dioramas and put together a new one of Lake Town.  And Sis and I made candles, one of the projects of my Hibernate workshop (we made two rose-scented candles and two "medieval" blend ones, with rosemary, thyme, orange, etc.)

And then, later this evening, we turned on the tv.

I had agreed to watching Katy Perry's halftime performance.  We like her music and the kids wanted to see it.  It was our nod to the occasion.  (When Bud was asking questions earlier about the game, we asked if he wanted to change his mind and watch. I didn't want to be the mom who wouldn't let them watch; I wanted it to be a group decision. "No," he said, "but it was hard not to do what everyone was doing."  So true. Don't get me wrong:  I like football.  I remember my paternal grandparents watching the Cowboys; I went to almost every football game while I was in high school.  I'm from Texas--football is our sport.   So, standing up for beliefs can be so hard, especially when they are unusual or unpopular.  Or have difficult consequences. Or just aren't as fun. But you stick to your decision anyway.  There's a great essay on that somewhere; I'll link back if I find it.)

And that's when we saw the ad about domestic abuse, using that real 9-1-1 call when the woman orders a pizza as a hint to the 9-1-1 operator that she is in danger.  I had heard about the call on FB and so could explain to the kids what was going on.  They had never heard of domestic abuse.  They couldn't fathom why someone would beat another person, or why someone might stay with a person who beat them.  It was delicate territory.  Especially when I explained why the NFL was showing the ad, as a way to make amends for their reluctance to take a stand on domestic abuse.    And even more especially when I explained that the woman down the street was beaten by her boyfriend so badly on Christmas day that the ambulance was called  . . . but that the boyfriend is back in the house (and to stay away from him and to come get us if they hear anything.  And yes we mentioned that the authorities are trying to help her and her kids, but that these situations are hard to understand and are very delicate.)  We even talked about how my maternal grandmother was abused by her first husband but was saved by her brother, divorced the man, and married again (even though she was kicked out of her Catholic church, divorce being quite unpopular in small-town Texas in the late 1930s.)  We talked about our zero-tolerance policy for hitting or violence because we don't want them to hurt others and because we don't want them to think it's okay for people to hurt them.

Fun, no?

Thank goodness Katy Perry roared on the field with that origami tiger right around then and we could cheer to all of her songs.  (And thankfully there wasn't too much in the way of exploitation of women that I had to address, nor cultural appropriation aka Miley Cyrus.  There was even Missy Elliott, always good for shifting paradigms!)   We liked it so much that we rewound it and watched it again.  And then, for good measure, we watched the video of Katy Perry singing with a young woman with autism (and spent some time talking about autism!  Whew.  It was our "inherent worth and dignity" of all people night.)



(We did have to discuss why there was "Pepsi" everywhere, how Pepsi had paid for the concert so that we would like their soda.  But really, what was a bubbly beverage have to do with music anyway?  Really?  Look for the money.)

And then we turned the Super Bowl off so that we could pet our NYcat Mojito, who had been sitting on the couch with me through the whole thing.

(And I'm so glad I didn't have to explain the end of the game, which apparently included a brawl.)

All in all, it was a good game(-less) day.

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