Suggested Reading, Super Bowl Edition

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"People want to feel part of a group...feel like they're connected and right now during these difficult times, they can turn on free television and watch the greatest entertainment that's out there. They can forget their worries...for just a few hours."

-Roger Goodell, on “60 Minutes”, January 29, 2012

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“Sports was an escapism thing for a lot of people [during the Great Depression]. You could get rid of your concerns about your family for a couple hours to listen to the baseball game. That was a big deal for many millions of Americans following teams.”

-Dick Davies, professor of history, the University of Nevada-Reno, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel, January 20, 2009

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"Hi, sports fans, it's Saturday, Oct. 7th and this is Chuck White with Bud Brown alongside me bringing you a daylong sports cavalcade of misery, paranoia, bitterness and defeat."

-Don Delillo, “Total Loss Weekend”

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"The bibulous, aphrodisiac lyrics strummed out by Anacreon of Teos at the banquets of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, are an example of escapism, comparable to the songs of Alcaeus and Sappho in strife ridden Mytilene."

-Encyclopedia of Social Science, 1933, first use of the word “escapism” in the Oxford English Dictionary

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“If there are any historians about 50 or a hundred years from now and there should be preserved the Kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white or color evidence of decadence [and] escapism...”

-Edward R. Murrow, to the Radio and Television News Producers Association, October, 1958

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"Here were a few back issues of the Beirut newspaper Al-Hawadess. A copy of Sports Illustrated dated January 21, 1974. Kabakov frowned at it. He picked it up. It was the only publication in English in the box. The cover bore a dark stain, coffee probably. He flipped through it once, then again. It was concerned mostly with football. Arabs follow soccer, but the principle article was about – Kabakov’s mind was racing. Fasil. Munich. Sports. The tape had said ‘Begin another year with bloodshed.’ Weisman looked up quickly at the sound of Kabakov’s voice. ‘Colonel Weisman, what do you know about this Super Bowl?’"

-Thomas Harris, Black Sunday

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"The study, subsequently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, noted that the largest surges in the accident rate occurred in the home states of the losing team [in the Super Bowl], where the number of crashes increased 68 percent after the telecast ended, while accidents only rose 6 percent in the winner’s state. Accidents climbed an average of 46 percent in “neutral” states."

-Snopes.com, “Crash Course – Claim: A rise in automobile accidents occurs after the Super Bowl”

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"As Sommers concluded, ‘How a belief in that misandrist canard can make the world a better place for women is not explained.’"

-Ibid, “Super Bull Sunday – Claim: More women are victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year”

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"Hyperbolic claims about floods or invasions of 10,000 to 100,000 sex workers to the Super Bowl has been widely repeated by American media, as has Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s unfounded claim that ‘the Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States’. Despite the widespread repetition of these claims, only a few journalists have questioned the plausibility of these claims. A few journalists have pointed out that the total number of visitors to the Super Bowl is estimated between 150,000 to 200,000 and that at these figures, ‘it meant that every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay.’"

-Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, “What’s the Cost of a Rumour: A guide to sorting out the myths and facts about sporting events and trafficking”

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"To watch a football game is to be in prolonged neurotic doubt as to what you’re seeing. It’s more like an emergency happening at a distance than a game. I don’t wonder the spectators take to drink."

-Jacques Barzun, “On Baseball”

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"Bennett’s bill would force owners of sports facilities like the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to refund millions of dollars and begin operating homeless shelters on off-nights. So far, the state has spent more than $270 million on constructing stadiums, with the former Dolphin Stadium receiving $37 million and AAA taking $27.5 million. It is unclear whether any of the stadiums, which receive monthly subsidies of about $166,000 each, is operating an active homeless shelter program."

-Miami Herald, January 24, 2012

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"‘I play football. It just seems so unimportant compared to everything that has taken place,’ he told NFL Films after the Sept. 11 attacks. His grandfather had been at Pearl Harbor. ‘A lot of my family has gone and fought wars, and I really haven't done a damn thing.’"

-Pat Tillman, quoted in the Washington Post, December 5, 2004

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"Physical aggression, even camouflaged by athletic uniforms and official rules and intended to do no harm to Jews, was not a traditional source of pleasure in our community – advanced degrees were. Nonetheless, through the Swede, the neighborhood entered into a fantasy about itself and about the world, the fantasy of sports fans everywhere: almost like Gentiles (as they imagined Gentiles), our families could forget the way things actually work and make an athletic performance the repository of all their hopes. Primarily, they could forget about the war."

-Philip Roth, American Pastoral

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"In five pages Schiaffino outlined the situation of soccer in Argentina, lamented the crisis, identified the guilty parties (the Jewish plutocracy, which hadn’t produced a single good player, and the Red intelligentsia, responsible for the nation’s decadence). He indicated the danger and explained ways to exorcise it."

-Roberto Bolano, Nazi Literature in the Americas

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...she skinned her

elbow, and i even

punched her and felt her, felt

how soft the hairs were. i thought

that i would make a fine football-playing

poet, but now i know

it is better to be an old, breathing

man wrapped in a great coat in the stands, who

remains standing after each play, who knows

something, who rotates in his place

rasping over and over the thing

he knows: ‘whydidnhe pass? the other

end was wide open! the end

was wide open! the end was wide open . . .’

-Denis Johnson, “Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game”

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"But labor activists aren't sure whether protesting around America's biggest sporting event - its world-wide television audience is expected to top 100 million - would generate sympathy or fuel anger that could damage their cause. ‘Union workers built that stadium, they should have the right to demonstrate in front of it,’ said retired steelworker Perry Stabler, as he demonstrated inside the Indiana statehouse."

-The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2012

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"…He pulls for the Rams the way he pulls for the Afghans against the Russian military machine. At half-time a lot of girls in colored dresses and guys that look like fags in striped jerseys dance while about a thousand pieces of California brass imitate the old Big Bands with an off-key blare; these kids try to jitterbug but they don’t have the swing, that one beat wait back on your heels and then the twirl… they snake together in what is supposed to be the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and then produce, out there in cloudless California, flashing sheets like tinfoil that are supposed to be solar panels. ‘Energy is people,’ they sing. ‘People are en-er-gy!’ Who needs Khomeini and his oil? Who needs Afghanistan? Fuck the Russkis. Fuck the Japs, for that matter. We’ll go it alone, from sea to shining sea."

-John Updike, Rabbit is Rich

“To portray America over the past twenty years or so, I would think immediately of football, probably the Super Bowl in its sumptuous suggestion of a national death wish.”

-Delillo, quoted in Grantland.com

"'The Super Bowl is the holy of holies. It's the sacred show of America. I have to go on in the middle of that and put on the greatest show that was ever put on before. That's no pressure,’ she told Leno, adding that her team has eight minutes to construct the stage and seven to dismantle it."

-Madonna, quoted in Us

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