Thursday, February 3, 2011

What If the Had a Super Bowl and No One Showed Up?

Maybe it’s because there’re are more important things going on, like the uprising in Egypt, or the Republicans’ attempts to redefine rape and to repeal the first serious advancement in health care reform since the days of Lyndon Baines Johnson, but I really don’t care about this year’s Super Bowl.

Let me say that again: I really don’t care about The Only Sporting Event that Matters, Super Bowl XLV. Which is saying something, because ordinarily I’d watch the Super Bowl even if it featured the two worst teams in the history of the league. Or the University of Michigan. But not this year.

Partly it is because there are too many important things happening in the world today and the Super Bowl just seems trivial. But it’s also because I can’t bring myself to care about either team in this year’s game. Truth be told, I wish they could both lose.

It wasn’t always that way. I used to love the Steelers – back in the 1970s when the Bears were … uh … not so great and the Steelers used to whip the hated Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl every so often. Before the 1980s (when Chicago teams started to make the playoffs fairly often, just like real professional sports franchises), you always had to have a backup team to root for; and in football, the Steelers were my backup. And because today’s Steelers have all-world running back Rashard Mendenhall, formerly of Your University of Illinois Fighting Illini, I could root for the Steelers over the Packers. I could, but there’s one little problem:

The 20-year-old college student who accused Ben Roethlisberger of assaulting her last month told Milledgeville, Ga., police the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback followed her into a nightclub bathroom, cornered her and had sex with her after she told him “no” more than once.

Hundreds of pages of police documents regarding the case were released Thursday, three days after prosecutors said no charges would be filed against Roethlisberger, who has denied the accusations.

In her statement, the accuser said Roethlisberger encouraged her and her friends to have numerous alcoholic drinks before she was escorted by one of Roethlisberger’s bodyguards -- identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as Coraopolis, Pa., police officer Anthony Barravecchio -- into a hallway, where Roethlisberger later exposed himself to her.

“I told him it wasn’t OK, no, we don’t need to do this, and I proceeded to get up and try to leave,” she said in her statement. “I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be a bathroom.”

But Roethlisberger followed her in and shut the door, she said.

“I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me,” she wrote. “He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything.”

It’s true no formal charges were filed against Roethlisberger, but the NFL thought the accusations were serious enough to suspend him for the first four games of the season – an unprecedented decision in the absence of criminal charges. So, that’s disconcerting. But, more importantly, this is the second time Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault: In July 2009 a woman filed suit against him in state court in Nevada alleging that he attacked her during a celebrity golf tournament in 2008. Like the accusations made in 2010, no criminal charges were filed in the 2008 case, and Roethlisberger denied the claims made in the lawsuit.

And so let me be clear: I’m not saying Ben Roethlisberger is guilty of sexual assault in either case. I am saying that if you get accused of rape twice in two years, there’s something creepy about you and I’m really not interested in watching you play football.

Sorry, Steelers fans. Yours is a bandwagon I’m not getting on.

As for the Packers, even though I’m a diehard Bears fan, under normal circumstances I probably would root for them – especially against an AFC team I’m no longer into. I really don’t hate the Packers. Which is not to say I haven’t, in fits of pique, said I hate ’em, but that’s more a matter of jealousy than anything else. Truth is, I think of the Bears-Packers rivalry as more of, like, a sibling rivalry than anything else – most of the time I want them to lose, of course, because that’s just sort of the normal order of the universe; but I really don’t hate them.

In other words: Yes, the Packers are a-holes; but they’re our a-holes.

The problem is, this year the Packers didn’t just have a better year than the Bears. It’s not like the Bears had a down year and the Packers won the division – in which case, I’d probably be gritting my teeth but pulling for them anyway.

No, this year the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC Championship, depriving the Bears of the Super Bowl. And they did it at Soldier Field.

That’s is an unforgivable sin.

So, screw the Packers. I want them to lose too.

© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, Dave. I don't want to support a sports-elite-sex-offender (allegedly) by allowing Comcast to count my TV among the watchers.

    Our household is still suffering from the 9+% unemployment - more than a 99er now! Somehow, spending billions on a sports event seems obscene. And not in a good way.