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Politicians Could Learn a Thing or Two from the Super Bowl



Like Monday morning quarterbacks, politicians from the White House on down criticize the National Football League and its players without ever really knowing how to execute from the playbook. Those critics might learn a thing or two from this year’s Super Bowl, starting with the reasons the event takes place.

The first would be too obvious to mention if politicians had normal vision: People are willing to pay money in order to watch football. That’s why the Super Bowl happens. It’s all about players who deliver value whenever they’re on the field, and it’s about their commitment to action – not rhetoric.

Even in college stadiums, where most of the athletes cut their teeth, fans are willing to pay money because the players gave it their all. Teams earned millions of dollars for their respective schools, coaches, television networks and NCAA bureaucrats.

Nobody will pay to watch bureaucrats, but this doesn’t stop politicians prohibiting college players from earning money for their play on the field, even though they risk serious injury every game. If this is all about student athletes and pure amateurism, there would be no huge television contract or merchandising.

Out of thousands of college players, only a select few will make it to the professional ranks. By one count, only 1.5 percent of more than 20,000 college football freshmen will make an NFL roster. Every player in Super Bowl LII, as in the entire NFL, was selected on the basis of pure merit and achievement, and according to the needs of the team.

Not a single one was selected because his daddy owns the team, because his family is wealthy, or because some relative or friend played in the league. In politics, as the Bush, Brown, Kennedy and Clinton clans confirm, family connections tend to outweigh merit. In fairness, Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda and Kiefer Sutherland know that it’s all relative in show business.

No player in Super Bowl LII was selected on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.

The Philadelphia Eagles did not select defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao because he hails from Samoa. The team signed Vaeao because he can stop opposing players from gaining yards.

Likewise, the New England Patriots selected tight end Rob Gronkowski because he takes affirmative action to catch passes, score touchdowns, and help his team win. Gronkowski’s Polish ancestry had nothing to do with it.

For all their talent and dedication, NFL players still make great effort to improve their game. Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, for example, practices catching passes while hanging upside down. The off-season regime of San Francisco 49ers receiver Jerry Rice would have worn out a Navy SEAL.

Politicians are not known for seeking ways to make themselves better, not unless we mean better at self-aggrandizement. They could all use some drills to help them become more honest and accountable to the public.

Politicians tend to tilt the power of government toward their supporters, but the field for Super Bowl LII is 100 percent on the level. Likewise, the rules do not favor one team over another.

Super Bowl winners have good cause to celebrate. As viewers may have noted, those on the losing side tend to be gracious, even praising the victors. That is hardly the case in politics these days.

The Super Bowl is a private sporting event, not a government function. There is no requirement to watch the national anthem, or to watch what any player does during the anthem. And nobody has to watch the Super Bowl or show any interest in football whatsoever.

On the other hand, even in a free country there’s no avoiding those politicians. They could all learn a few things from those players on the field.


K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent Briefing, Cross-Currents in California Water: A Case Study of Bureaucracy Versus Tradable, Private Water Rights.






  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org