Cun Shi nytimes.com

Here’s why February 7th is more than the day of the“Big Game” (Spoiler Alert: It’s not good)

There are very few people who would be inclined to call American football a “beautiful” sport — it is full of flaws: of course, the routine brain damage, player concussions, and the fact that the National Football League is a multi-billion dollar industry that tells the public they care about player safety but doesn’t ever prove it.

But in this case, it isn’t the sport itself that necessarily poses the problem; it’s the culture, and it’s ugly. Unfortunately, Super Bowl 50 will be taking the Bay Area by storm very soon, and the preparations, which aren’t too pretty either, are in full swing.

Each year, the host city is required to take extra measures to prevent sex trafficking that comes alongside the Big Game. Two years ago, in Newark’s Super Bowl, the FBI was needed to intervene in a prostitution ring in which girls as young as thirteen were forced into sex trafficking for the entire duration of the event. Over fifty women and girls were rescued from the coerced sex work, as well as more than 45 pimps who were arrested, and numerous guns were seized. The fact is that we are knowingly bringing a sickening wave of human trafficking into a city that has done extremely well in recent years keeping it off the streets.

San Francisco has also aggressively began relocating the homeless into shelters and out of the eye of the media. Because hordes of cameras are going to be pointed here, the city will want to decrease the presence and reminder of poverty, creating some kind of wild illusion that poverty doesn’t exist. This perpetuates this idea of “superiority of the rich” — that the more money you have, the more of a person you are. Needless to say, those who are traveling to the Bay Area and attending the Super Bowl, which had a record-high average ticket price this year of $5,217, are extremely wealthy. San Francisco is conveying the disgusting message that homeless people are disposable: that they are just things that you can temporarily sweep under the rug or hide in closets when you have guests over for a dinner party.

There’s also the fact that a vast number of people will be swilling beer from plastic cups, waving styrofoam fingers, and glorifying the carbon-emitting, energy-guzzling, trash-generating event that the Super Bowl has and will be every year. The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl used around 15,000 megawatt-hours of electricity — that’s enough to power about 1,400 US homes for a year.

The Super Bowl, one of television’s most-watched events, is worshipped in our country. And in an event this big and widely-accepted, it is crucial that we are open to questioning it: What goes on behind the scenes? What is it that they might be hiding and not want us to know?

The point of all of this isn’t to not watch the Super Bowl this year. It’s to know what you are watching.

Originally published in the Berkeley High Jacket on January 29th, 2016.