Phooey on the Super Bowl

Because of the nature of my work, the Super Bowl is a big deal. We support some local infrastructure that has to be available 24×7, and when you have such a big event like the Super Bowl happening, all eyes are on your IT systems. What this means is that for the past three months, my work life has revolved around getting ready for this event. We’ve spent countless hours in meetings and planing sessions with everyone from the Department of Homeland Security, to our local airport commission. The amount of public sector money spent in salaries alone would make most libertarians scream.

It all culminates today with the big game. It also means that I’m tied to my phone and computer all weekend, doing check-in calls, and assigning staff to deal with issues. Any little hiccup, and we risk making the national news. So ya,… no pressure.

All of this for a single football game. I used to be a bigger football fan as a child and young adult, but over the past 4-5 years I’ve really come to not enjoy it as much. One of the things that soured me a bit was attending a Vikings game in person. It’s the only NFL game I’ve ever been to, and frankly, it was boring in person. The speakers were turned up loud, and the action was constantly interrupted by TV timeouts. It showed me that football is a sport that’s much easier and enjoyable to watch on TV.

I would much rather go to a soccer game (hence why I’m a season ticket holder), or even hockey. Both of those sports are incredible to watch in person, as the action rarely stops. The formations and set pieces develop quickly and organically, and you never know what’s coming next. After years of watching football, any fan can predict what the play will be with staggering accuracy. In sports like soccer or hockey, you may spot the opportunity at the same time as the players, but often you’re taken by surprise as someone suddenly appears down a side flank, in a dead sprint, out of nowhere.

All this to say, that my weekend is dominated by a game that I care little about, and feels like a giant waste of taxpayer money. I do sincerely hope that all the locals that are enjoying the extra activities going on, are having a good time. Plus, I hope that all the visitors to our region are getting a chance to see what an amazing city we have, even in the dead of winter. As for the big game today… whatever. At least we got to see some fighter jets scream overhead near our local Target store.

The annoying Super Bowl

Next year Minneapolis is hosting the Super Bowl. This was one of the perks of sinking hundreds of millions of public dollars into a stadium for a team that only plays a handful of games each year. At least they’ve re-opened US Bank stadium to people who want to run loops around the concourse, giving it some other purpose.

I could get into a long tirade on the horrendous waste of publicly funded stadiums, but the point that I wanted to talk about today is how an event like the Super Bowl disrupts life for people who live there. In particular, public transit. Our public transit organization has agreed to suspend operations of our rail lines around the stadium on game day so that Super Bowl ticket holders can get a special ride, to and from, Mall of America to the game.

That means that anyone south of downtown Minneapolis, who is a resident and is not going to the game, must use replacement bus lines. Thankfully, it’s a Sunday and probably only inconveniencing a handful of people compared to a weekday, but it’s the principle. People who live here are treated like second class citizens because we want to kowtow to the almighty NFL and it’s billionaire owners.

I realize that we want to show off our cool rail lines, and we want to encourage rich people to build businesses here, but really, do we think that a single week of football festivities will really be a 400 millions dollar economic boon to the area? Our transit driver’s union is threatening a strike during this time, which I think is a brilliant move for them. At least they might come out of this with some better job benefits and a decent wage increase. Maybe if that’s the economic boon that we end up with it’s not as bad as it could be. At least a group of hard working and underpaid people may come out a bit ahead in the end.

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