With February upon us I’m sure everyone has had only one thing on their minds. A day filled with celebration, passion and entertainment! No, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day … nor President’s Day.
I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday.
Of course, after the New England Patriots lost in an uncharacteristically mistake-plagued game against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, I was glad to take some time away from football.
But my slight vacation would not last long with all of the Super Bowl antics, such as media day, highly touted commercials and of course, Beyoncé, the star performer of the halftime show.
Going even more in-depth on pre-Super Bowl weekend, a few allegations stood out, such as Randy Moss claiming to be the most prolific wide-receiver, Ray Lewis playing in his last game, as well as being accused of taking performance enhancing drugs, and of course, who could forget the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John, who coach the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
All of the storylines and gossip provide great entertainment; however, I have not yet mentioned one thing about the two particular teams playing in the Super Bowl itself.
Every year, the Super Bowl becomes more and more of a novelty act. Almost as though the media focuses on the rumors surrounding players and coaches’ personal lives, and then quickly slips in “by the way the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are the teams actually playing in the game.”
One can argue the week before the Super Bowl is one big reality TV show, but quite frankly, I get enough reality TV back home when my mother turns on the Kardashians.
Sports are always a tricky subject to talk about. When we are young, people preach to play for the love of the game. As we grow, our perception of the world and financials change and we are left playing the game for varying reasons. A few people play because they love it. Some play more for the financial boost, waiting when they reach the ultimate level of the game. And an even larger amount of athletes love the attention and hubris which comes with playing.
My focus and concern is on this last group of athletes, such as Randy Moss, who stated on Super Bowl Media Day, “I’m the best wide receiver of all time,” Moss is an example of a player who feeds off the attention of the media and fans.
In a game where the term “team” arguably carries the most weight compared to other sports, is it acceptable to have players like Moss get up on the podium and not mention how hard his teammates worked to get to this point, but to single himself out and take the spotlight.
It is easy to point the finger at Moss for his ego, despite being way past his prime, as I just did, but when taking a look at the league as a whole and the media attention around the athletes, maybe Moss is just a product of his environment.
And then headlines about Ray Lewis taking steroids eventually became more popular than the headlines of the game itself.
Being a kid growing up in the city of Boston, my friends did not want to play sports because they loved the concept of actually playing the game; they wanted to sit at a podium one day and be as cocky, confident and boisterous as every wide receiver in the NFL.
Media Day is a waste of time, and more often than not, it gets players into trouble. Players such as Moss and Lewis become a product of their environment and fall into the trap of attention. The week before the Super Bowl should be used to focus on how hard both teams worked to get to the pinnacle of their sport.
It should be a celebration of their triumphs, how the teams were broken down by injuries, but persevered and overcame odds; the ultimate promotion of team unity which will resonate within our youth and teach them to play for the right reasons. Instead we see a focus on individuals and their negative actions with Lewis’s allegations and police records.
Why not celebrate the game while it’s here, and when it’s over, that’s when the media can pick apart athletes, their choices, their personal lives and popularity instead of tainting the celebration of the sport with its reality show-like antics.
Dennis Topakov is a Collegian contributor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.