Last year, I wrote about how 2012’s Super Bowl was more political than many people may have realized: “I’m sure many people will balk at the idea of politics mixing with sports – usually they are seen as being mutually exclusive – a somewhat ‘safe’ topic of discussion rather than the ‘risky’ topics of religion and politics. But politics and the Super Bowl have a history…”

In 2010, CBS aired a watered-down version of Tim Tebow’s conservative anti-abortion ad, but rejected a liberal ad that portrayed gay men positively. In 2011, FOX Sports took in $195 million through Super Bowl ad revenue for their parent company “News Corp,” whose subsidiaries (FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, etc) are nothing more than conservative propaganda masquerading as news.

And in 2012, there again was an anti-abortion ad campaign, as well as an ad that featured the abusive practice of greyhound racing. Also, the Super Bowl was being held in Indiana, which was embroiled in a battle between anti-union “Right to Work” advocates and union-entities – such as the NFL. (Check out last year’s entry for more detail:

As famed naturalist John Muir once wrote, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” It is with that sentiment that I present 2013’s Political Super Bowl.

To begin, a couple of background points:

  1. At a time when the nation is the most politically divided it’s been since the Civil War, much of that division comes from outlets such as FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, claiming that President Obama and Democrats are evil socialists. It’s important to note that, while such claims are ignorant and false, the NFL is legitimately socialist, and it seems to be working pretty well for them.
  2. Meanwhile, many NFL owners and players overwhelmingly favored Mitt Romney in last year’s election. NY Jets owner Woody Johnson is even being floated as a potential Republican replacement for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) if he is forced to resign, leaving Governor Chris Christie to appoint his replacement. And earlier in the 2012-2013 NFL season, anti-union Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, voiced his displeasure with the anti-union “replacement refs.” Apparently, getting rid of unions was fine for teachers, but not when it affects a “real” American institution such as football!

This year’s Super Bowl will hit on several issues:

  • Members of the Super Bowl competitors, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, have very publicly come out on different sides on gay rights in the lead-up to the big game. Chris Culver, 49er cornerback, first made news on January 30,when he declared that he wouldn’t tolerate having any gay teammates: “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”Culver’s fellow 49er teammates seemed to echo his anti-gay stance by claiming that they only participated in the pro-gay “It Gets Better” campaign because they thought it was anti-bullying in general, rather than bringing awareness to kids being bully specifically because they’re gay.

    Conversely, Raven linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, has publicly criticized such anti-gay comments, saying that he hopes Culver will learn from this mistake. He is a straight ally to the gay community, and has brought his philosophy into the Ravens’ locker room:

    “I’ve preached since Day 1 to my teammates, there are certain words you can’t say. When they’re around me, they know, if B.A. is around, you can’t say gay in a derogatory manner. You can’t say the three-letter ‘F’ word.”
    -Brendon Ayanbadejo

  • In an ad touted as the one that “Coke and Pepsi don’t want you to see,” SodaStream hits at the fact that American’s use far too many plastic bottles, which contributes to “enough trash every year to cover the state of Texas — twice.” This comes on the heels of a disingenuous ad campaign from Coca-Cola to obscure soda’s role in America’s obesity epidemic. You can only see the ad online, because CBS has bowed to pressure from Coke and Pepsi, and has pulled it from their Super Bowl line-up.
  • And just as with last year’s Super Bowl, the venue itself is tied up in politics. New Orlean’s Superdome is hosting the game, which is the first time since the city was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Contrary to the Republican claim that private corporations do everything themselves (“I built that!”), American tax payers gave $470 million to fund reconstruction and renovations. There is currently only one NFL facility in the country built solely with private funds.

Go Ravens!