I wonder, as I prepare to host a Super Bowl party with my girlfriend for people who don’t really care about the Super Bowl (aka artists and Buddhists), what future sociologists might think about the event. Will they think it was a beautiful celebration of the human drive to achieve and compete? Or will they think it is a greed-driven gladiator arena, a 21st century Rome, emblematic of a society in steep decline? Optimism tells me the former, realism tells me the latter.
I have to say, I admire how well the event has been branded over time. It is the only event in human history where people tune in, explicitly excited to watch advertisements! Talk about an effective sell.
I did manage to watch the championship games, which were supremely exciting for all the Buddhist gladiators out there. In case you missed it, there was a huge uproar over Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman’s post game interview (below), after making a great game-saving play in the end zone. You can see the intensity of his arrogance, which rivals the staged interviews of a Macho Man Randy Savage wrestling match.
This interview sparked a huge controversy over whether he was merely being confident about his victory, or being totally ungracious and arrogant. The blogs were tinged with questions of racism and culture which were very interesting to ponder. Many posts defending Sherman reminded us that he is a graduate of Stanford with a 3.9 GPA.
Personally, I don’t think anything beats being gracious, especially when you just won the game, and pretending that this interview is anything other than a festival of neurotic behavior would be hard to pull off. After all, how many other players on the same field, who came from similar circumstances, had more sportsmanlike composure after the game? That’s not to say Sherman is a bad guy at all, it’s just to say that confidence and arrogance are palpably different phenomena, and we all fall on the wrong side of that fine line at times. You can see the interviewer wincing, the way people wince when they feel like they’re in too close to somebody else’s neurosis. We’ve all been there, on both sides. I know I have. We can critique an action without vilifying a person, which is one of the most important distinctions that studying the Dharma has taught me.
Anyways, I’m looking forward to explaining the rules of football to about 20 people who have no idea what’s going on on the screen. Enjoy the game, or else enjoy real life!