Not that there are too few reminders of Super Bowl LVII,* but I did notice one article on that annual gladiatorial gathering that announced: “An all-female team will be at the controls for the military flyover before the football game for the first time.” Ostensibly, this will honor 50 years of women as U.S. naval aviators. These female Navy pilots at the Super Bowl will be flying fighters and bombers. I am impressed.
While we are at it, can we also honor the WASPs, the more than a thousand women (38 KIA) who, to free up male pilots for combat, flew bombers and other aircraft within the U.S. and across the ocean to Europe during WWII. This was well before the parents of today's female aviators were even born.
What bothers me though, is the irony of this “celebration:” While “honoring” these women during this hyper-masculine event, no one has mentioned that females aren't allowed to play this game, or that the only females on the ground near the male players are the female cheerleaders and perhaps a smattering of female sports reporters. How can one not be stupefied by the paradox?
It is a display of female pilots to be “honored,” female cheerleaders to be exploited, and male football players to whom fortunes will be paid and on whom fortunes will be made. I am dizzy with cognitive dissonance as I write this. Were Sophocles alive today, he would say, “Who's the exploiter? Who the exploited? Speak!”
And why do we keep conflating these major sporting events with the military? I thought the military had been handed a stop-work order on contracts for these military demonstrations covertly designed to assist in recruitment efforts. Typically such flyovers cost about $500K. That's a lot of school lunches.
But ultimately, when will we stop conflating sports with patriotism? (See articles at RELATED LINKS below)
Comments by Readers
Ralph SchwartzFeb 12, 2023
Just for the record, the Philadelphia Eagles have a female sports conditioning coach, and you’ll see female referees at pretty much every NFL game nowadays. Still, point taken.
Dick ConoboyFeb 12, 2023
But are inroads into these violent professions by women to be celebrated?
Carol FollettFeb 12, 2023
Thank you, Dick, for so clearly articulating why these hyped and heightened “games” cause some “red flags” for some of us. My friends and colleagues, and probably most of my realtives are watching “the game” today, and I do not want to disrupt their fun. Gathering for this event revolves around traditional festivities much like Thanksgiving. Additionally, it may be obligatory for career advancement to be able to discuss the plays over interactions at work next week.
However, like you, I am disturbed by our nationalistic, nearly ritualistic, frenzy over a violent, headbanging, expensive, group amygdala provoking activity. You liken this ultimate game to the blood thirsty, ancient gladiatorial games, and that, I believe, answers your question about why the military promotes them. Those gladiatorial combat games reflected a military thinking that brought the Roman Empire to its dictatorial height and eventually to its overexpanded fall.
It is unfortunate that we cannot muster a competition to build the most sustainable, affordable homes, have highest happiness rating per household, or perhaps a gold medal for having the most citizens receiving a certificate from a conflict resolution program (https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/conflict-resolution/conflict-resolution-strategies/). Can we compete for the best or most collaborative activity? 😊