The View from South of the Cheddar Curtain

Like most Bears fans, I watched the Super Bowl with deep ambivalence. It’s inconceivable that I could root for the Packers, but the Steelers aren’t a particularly appealing team. Dave Zirin makes a good case, though, for why we should be glad the Packers won yesterday.

The Packers are the only community-owned team in the NFL. Instead of one despotic billionaire owner, the Packers are owned by 112,000 fans, an arrangement that seems, in today’s political climate, as positively Trotskyite. During the game, there was no mention of the team’s unique, and vaguely socialist, ownership structure. While viewers were treated to plenty of celebrity shots, including George W. Bush, the Fox cameras avoided the Steelers’ owners, the Rooney family, another anachronism from a less corporitized era in sports ownership. At the end of the game, the NFL pretended the Packers were like any other NFL. Zirin writes,

during the traditional passing of the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team’s owner, the award was handed to the Packers “CEO and Chief Executive Officer” Mike Murphy who barely looks old enough to shave. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as he threatens to lock the players out, clearly wants to hide the truth that the Packers have no single billionaire owner. They want it hidden because the team from Green Bay stand as a living breathing example that if you take the profit motive out of sports, you can get more than a team to be proud of: you get a Super Bowl Champion. It aint Tahrir Square, but it’s something in our over-corporatized, hyper commercialized, sports world, to cheer. That is reason enough to celebrate the fact that the Lombardi Trophy has finally come home to Titletown.

Zirin has a point, although I’d like to offer a rebuttal from south of the Cheddar Curtain. There’s always been something cornpone about the Packers. The passion feeding their fierce rivalry with the Chicago Bears has its source, in large measure, in a country versus city animus. This fault line exists in the body politic as well, one that Fox exploits even more than it does American troops. Actually, I would think Fox is thrilled that a team from the conservative cheddar belt beat a team from pro-union, Democratic-leaning Pittsburgh.

For the good of the country, we should all root for the Chicago Bears, the only major sports franchise in the U.S. with a female principal owner, to win the next Super Bowl.

One more thing: Was I the only one troubled by all the promotions for Fox’s new series The Chicago Code, which portrays the home town of Glenn Beck’s least favorite president as a cesspool of corruption?

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