When politics divide a nation as much as it has the United States over the past 12 years – and especially over the past two years – nothing remains untouched. Even those activities and past-times that should be enjoyed and celebrated unstained by the taint of political partisanship cannot escape the shadow of ideological and cultural conflict. Super Bowl LIII was certainly no exception and, symbolically, the New England Patriots’ victory delivered another crushing defeat to the left.
New England is the most hated team in football because they have been the most dominant team in the National Football League for almost two decades. In the past 18 seasons, the Patriots have made it to nine Super Bowl games, and they have now won six of those championships, becoming one of only two teams in history to lift the trophy six times – the Pittsburg Steelers being the other.
The Political Tarnishing of Football
Football was tarnished by politics, though, when a young, mediocre quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers decided that taking a stand – or, rather, taking a knee – on an issue he barely understood was more important to him than the sport itself, his teammates, and a multi-million dollar career. That sounds rather noble but, in reality, it was petulant and futile and that young man, Colin Kaepernick, did not willingly sacrifice anything. He was arrogant enough to believe that throwing a wrench into the almost billion-dollar machine that is the NFL would not hurt him, but make him a hero. He was wrong.
The political left is obsessed by racial differences even more than it is obsessed with hatred of President Donald Trump. The trend Kaepernick started; kneeling instead of standing, during the playing of the national anthem before each game, injected identity politics into the sport. Meanwhile, the most hysterical and irrational left-wingers had already chosen to associate Trump with white supremacism. It soon became known that the three key members of the Patriots’ organization, owner Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady, were supporters, or at least friends, of Trump. Thus, Super Bowl LIII took on a strange political symbolism.
In the days leading up to the big game, social media was abuzz with a strange narrative: The New England Patriots had become “team MAGA,” representing white supremacism and Trump supporters. Their opponents, the Rams, had recently relocated from St. Louis, Missouri to Los Angeles in the People’s Republic of California. Perhaps that move contributed to the strange aura that surrounded this Super Bowl: A California team takes on Trump’s team. None of this makes much sense, of course: No-one in the New England organization has ever openly pledged loyalty to the president and it is not known if Trump himself supports the Patriots or any other NFL team.
The whole thing seems almost surreal – perhaps even laughable. Speaking of laughable, some third-rate blogger named Corbin Smith even penned a poorly-written and completely unhinged rant for The Huffington Post, with the title “Tom Brady’s New England Patriots Are Team MAGA, Whether They Like It or Not.” One could be forgiven for thinking this article was meant to be satire. Smith tries to make the case that Brady – the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time, who now owns a record six Super Bowl rings – is actually some white supremacist Svengali.
A Symbolic MAGA Victory
Aside from all that nonsense, the Super Bowl was refreshingly devoid of political statements: No-one took a knee for the singing of the national anthem and the half-time show was nothing more than a musical performance.
The game itself was remarkable in an unremarkable way. It turned out to be the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history as the defensive units of both teams frustrated their opponents for most of the game. Going into the fourth quarter, with the score at 3 – 3, the Patriots finally found some offensive momentum and scored a touchdown.
The Rams were denied a couple of opportunities to get back into the game by crucial Patriot defensive plays and, after a New England field goal made it a 10-point game, Los Angeles’ last hope was a field goal that would have given them the long-shot chance of recovering an on-side kick and a last-moment touchdown to tie the game. The Rams kicker missed the field goal, though, and the rest is, literally, history.
There really is no political significance to the outcome of the game but the increasingly unhinged left tried to set it up as a battle between Trump’s Make America Great Again movement and whatever movement the left imagines it is driving. For the sake of playing along with this idiotic notion, we should chalk up another win for Team Trump and witness the lamentation of his haters. It is almost like November 2016 all over again. Congratulations, New England Patriots!