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What’s Wrong with CBS, the Super Bowl, and Football

January 29th, 2010 No comments

This will be the official Grouch Post for January. One of them, anyway.

Maybe you’ve heard by now about CBS’s decisions on ads for the Super Bowl. They’ve decided to “relax” their policy against advocacy ads to allow one from Focus on the Family that uses NFL star Tim Tebow and his mother to condemn  abortion. (The message: “He wasn’t aborted! Therefore no one should be, ever!” What were you expecting in thirty seconds, sophistication?) It turns out that their policy had been evolving, but we just didn’t know it until now. Very convenient.

Meanwhile, an ad from an entity known as ManCrunch has been rejected, with the following explanation: “the creative is not within the Network’s Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday.” It might help to know what those standards are, but CBS isn’t saying.  Here’s the rejected video:

No, the Super Bowl isn’t being aired on April 1 this year. There’s a great deal that can be said about CBS’s decision. I begin with the obvious question: Would they have rejected a similar dating service ad for an opposite-sex couple? But that’s the easy observation. I’ll bet that the real reason had something to do with the way the ad brings to the surface the simmering homoeroticism in male contact sports (and here extended to the jersey-wearing couch potatoes who watch them).

I can’t say I’m sorry to see the ad go, though. I have no idea why a gay dating site would want to run this ad. The two guys don’t seem to know they’re even gay until they find their hands together in the chip bowl (yuck, btw). Worse, it closes with a pan over to the flummoxed friend who, one thinks, might be checking out other Super Bowl parties within the next few minutes. And do not get me started about the production values. I’m not the first to suggest that ManCrunch is offended like a fox, as they (never) say. They couldn’t have expected CBS to actually run this thing; but now they’re getting tons of free publicity. My tastless ad submission for this blogsite will soon follow.

As the Janet Jackson warbdrobe malfunction moment that will live forever reminds us, the Super Bowl has long been an uneasy mix of family entertainment, statement on the current culture, and — lest we forget — controlled violence.

It’s this violence that makes me so not a fan of professional football. As I’ve written before, distressing numbers of pro football players sustain long-term neurological and physical problems,  often leading to early death and disability. (One might say, uncharitably, that it’s too bad that Tim Tebow’s mom’s concerns about her son don’t seem to extend to his life after football.)  And watching the level of aggression that leads to such serious issues is itself a producer of violence: Domestic violence, fueled by alcohol and the negative emotions sustained by the fans of the losing team, spikes on Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy the game, everyone!