The first Super Bowl I remember watching was the 1992 game between the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills. I picked the Redskins, simply to irritate my Bills loving older brother. My team won and my inner football fan came alive. I have watched every single Super Bowl since. Until this year.
This year, the game is between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Traditionally, I would be excited. I have been a Green Bay fan for years, having relatives who live in the city. I like both former Packer QB Brett Farve and current one Aaron Rodgers. The Steelers have good reasons to cheer for them: Dan Rooney is one of the classiest owners is sports.
Unfortunately, his quarterback is not. Ben Roethlisberger is a perfect example of the worst professional sports has to offer. Since joining the Steelers, he has twice sexually assaulted women, once in Nevada and once in Georgia. In both cases, no criminal charges were filed. In the words of the Georgia District attorney Fred Bright there was a lack of evidence to “prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” In layman’s terms, it was his claim of “rough consensual sex” against both women’s accusation of rape. The money and fame would make it nearly impossible to convict Roethlisberger in this case (see: Kobe Bryant), and no attorney wants to be the who loses this kind of high profile case.
And these situations are not simply a pro-career going to his head. Roethlisberger attended both Findlay High School and the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio. This is the same area of Ohio where my wife grew up, so I have had opportunities to hear people’s personal experiences with him. While secondary hearsay is not lock solid, universally the experiences speak of an arrogant young man who believes the world should bow to his wishes. His professional actions are simply the latest in a lifetime of entitlement.
So I refuse to watch any game in which Roethlisberger plays. I will not turn on the television, even to cheer against him. Not once this year have I done so, nor will I do so even for the most important game of the season.
I do not expect this to have any noticeable effect. A hundred million other people will watch, regardless of those who are playing. I don’t care. This is not an elaborate boycott trying to get the NFL’s attention. This is simply a personal moral stand. Roethlisberger has the power of privilege he wields because we give it to him. The only way I can take any of it away is by not participating in his performance, even passively through the television.
To you readers, I do not request or even expect that you will take a similar stance. Instead, I share this to simply make your think about your participation in the events around you. What causes do you support by your participation? What groups do you belong do, from football fandom to worldwide religion, that empowers people to cause harm on others? We must take responsibility for being a part of this cultural power we grant. We must decide when enough is enough and take action, even if it is just to turn off the tv.
-That is all.