Weighing consumerism and the economic impact of the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and the nation is abuzz. The coveted spectacle of America’s most beloved sport is one of the year’s most anticipated events. Who is performing at halftime? Who is singing the national anthem? How many “squares” did everyone buy? All the while, people are gorging themselves with pizza, wings and their favorite cheese-based dip. The NFL’s final game takes pride in the fact that it gets nearly half the nation to sit down in front of a television to watch massive men nearly kill one another – literally.

In 2013, we were exposed to the short and long-term dangers of the sport that will force some of us to watch with mild to severe apprehension.

But should it? Is there pride in the commercialization that spawns all over the country this time of year?

The game this year is in New York – well, really New Jersey – and is the first Super Bowl held in a cold weather stadium. As if there was not enough hype around the game, the league felt it necessary to block 13 blocks of Broadway in New York City to create “Super Bowl boulevard,” a carnival of events all things football.

The NFL justifies shutting down a significant part of the nation’s busiest city by saying it will drum up the local economy by as much as $500-$600 million. The problem is there is no evidence to back this up. According to CBS, an NFL spokesman said the Super Bowl committee does not perform any studies to survey economic impact – the very same one claiming to bring in hundreds of millions.

This promise is made year after year, but it never seems to follow through, according to economists. For instance, the 1999 championship held in Miami was projected to bring in over $300 million, but a study by Robert Baade, professor of economics at Lake Forest College, found that the Miami local economy experienced an influx of $32 million.

Hotel managers are already feeling this insufficient boost in the economy. Politicians and the committee promised managers that they would be booked solid, but these hotels are struggling to fill the rooms.

The frenzy over commercials similarly exemplifies these issues. Companies shell out millions of dollars for mere seconds of airtime in an attempt to achieve the fleeting fame that comes with going viral. It’s odd, though. Has a particularly clever Super Bowl ad ever prompted anyone to become a patron of its maker? What’s the return on investment for a 30-second, $3.5 million Doritos commercial?

Rather, these commercials fit neatly with the larger Super Bowl trend of mindless consumption. Why would a company spend millions of dollars for a short advertisement aside from a larger-than-usual audience? Well, if they don’t, someone else will.

The Super Bowl, in all its glitz and glam, is basically only that. The only beneficiary of the event is the NFL. The city and its people certainly feel no effect from the arrival of tourists or, rather, lack thereof. The event, as much of the NFL does, turns a blind eye to real issues (see: athlete’s head trauma).

Unfortunately, we – The Lamron staff – will be watching because it is a spectacle. But know when you are watching that the value of the event is as empty as the hotel rooms in New York City.