The Night ESPN Saved Mardi Gras

>> Monday

You guys knew I would keep harping on this, and gess what; I am.

Again, I understand--big moment for New Orleans, uplifting for the fans, etc., etc.

But I'm sorry. No one likes the guy who says this. Everyone sees it coming. It's a cliche. But it has to be said.

It's a fucking football game.

REPEAT--It's a fucking football game. It cannot be emphasized enough.

Homegrown music legends singing "The Star Spangled Banner"--a classy touch. Having a former president leading a massive relief effort perform the coin flip--also classy. Turning tragedy into an overblown publicity stunt--less classy. Opening montages playing on over-the-top stereotypes of the region and poor, southern blacks--not touching. Selling a FUCKING FOOTBALL GAME as a legitimate, singular moment in the resurrection of a city that in some places was, and still remains, utterly DESTROYED--misrepresentative, not classy, not touching.

I think this whole thing stinks for two reasons (which I already articulated before but will repeat):

1) The theatrics leading up to the game were clearly, in part, the doing of people who saw the event as an opportunity to make themselves feel important while stripping away the solemn reality of the situation. Remember--there's a little backstory involved here, and it doesn't exactly have a resolution. Not any to celebrate at least.

2) The theatrics very much gloss over the fact that a vast, vast majority of the affected individuals simply do not care about the Saints. For these people, they will wake up tomorrow knowing that life right now sucks just as much as it did when they woke up this morning. And even for those victims that have been heartened by the national spotlight this week, life will suck for them also, just as it did a week ago or a month ago. Only there won't be any ESPN around to celebrate their courage and culture in overwrought Disney imagery.

I agree--I hate when I get all self-righteous and shit like this as much as anyone else does. But I think what I'm saying is a very legitimate flip-side to this phoenix-from-the-dust hooey that every media outlet has pinned to tonight's game. I'm not saying I only see this one side of it. In fact, I'm rarely convinced of any opinion I share, but it doesn't mean they're not worth sharing. Because there's always someone else that does feel it.

...On a positive note: Matt, Gavin, and Nate--I guess we can all feel even better about blowing a couple hundred bucks we didn't have in the French Quarter this spring. Did you hear what Tony Kornheiser said? What New Orleans wants most of all is our tourism dollars! Done and done.

(Woooo! Spring break!)


Patrick 8:58 PM  

Yeah, but at least U2 was awesome...

Matt Zuchowski 11:27 PM  

Frankly, I disagree wholeheartedly with most of these sentiments. I don't think ESPN glossed over at all the condition the city of New Orleans is still in. Yes, they may have gone overboard a bit in their view of the Saints importance. However, the importance of the Superdome being available cannot be understated. Besides the incredible tourist money a return of the Final Four and Super Bowl will bring(just for the good PR, I expect both to be in New Orleans in next 5-7 years), the Dome will bring many people in through avenues outside of sports like conventions. Also, while the actual importance of sports will always be argued, the fact remains that tonight's broadcast showcased the recovery the French Quarter and other important tourist destinations have made to a large nationwide audience. I totally agree that the situation as a whole in Louisiana is stil a mess. However, we all know the blame squarely lies at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and with his cronies on Capitol Hill.

Mike 9:05 AM  

When did this become Yellow Chair Politics?

Vinnie 1:00 PM  

Very well taken, Zuch. (Though I disagree on your last sentence, as several levels of government handled the situation poorly. Just blaming the federal executive response is way too short-sighted...but let's not get hung up on this.)

I'm glad you contested my points because that was lazily and hastily written, and I definitely did not articulate my point.

Essentially what I've been getting at (or trying to) is that I have a problem with the media overselling the symbolic value of the game last night.

The reopening of a valuable revenue source--that has tangible value. A three-hour long tourism ad for the city--also has tangible value. But the actual value of "having something to be excited about" or "a symbol that life is returning to nomral" is negligible, if real at all for the hardest-hit victims. Life getting back to normal? For the Saints organization, yes.

I felt that we were being sold this distorted reality that somehow the symbolic value of the Saints playing in the Superdome again is somehow an incredible boon to those still trying to recover their lives. The fiscal benefit of the reopening--yes, that is very valuable. Hopefully that revenue stream will bring livable housing and utilities back to. But the symbolic element has never nor will ever have meaning to a majority of the victims.

Hopefully I'm kind of making sense now (but probably still not since I'm trying to disect vague, possibly misguided feelings). But I'm glad you called me out and made me qualify my perceptions as best I could or else I'd be no better than Jay Mariotti.

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