Sports Business

FUNNY BUSINESS: Begging for a Super Bowl: The ego and the bid

May 19, 2008

And so another Indianapolis Super Duper Bowl offering is in the hands of the immortals, also known as the NFL owners, delivered there by scrubbed, shining, briefcase-toting eighth graders. Now we know how far some adults will go to avoid rejection.

The kids were chosen for this mission to, in the words of the organizers, show that the entire community wants to host the 2012 Championship of the World (Not Including All The Countries Outside The United States.)

What a fine way to teach the youngsters about hyperbole.

The whole community, huh? Maybe they had a referendum. Was it on the back of the primary ballot? Or did they take a survey? If they did, they forgot to call me.

Oh, I know. They went door-to-door, didn't they? I must have been upstairs when they knocked.

Excuse me for getting all technical about it, but it seems to me you can't say the entire community wants something unless you first ask the entire community.

But that's how it is with the civic rah-rah.

It's the same class of rah-rah that sells every big, expensive idea that's going to tie up traffic and send restaurant prices to the moon by telling us it's what Indianapolis must have to be a World Class City.

This is an old gimmick. The Pan Am Games were going to make us a World Class City. The Hoosier Dome, as it was called in the olden days, was going to make us a World Class City. The U.S. Grand Prix was going to make us a World Class City. Well, we had 'em. Aren't we World Class yet?

And it hasn't just been sports. It goes for goofy art installations. Buildings, too. I'm pretty sure they said it about Union Station. Then again, that might have been Circle Centre mall (which even uses the World Class spelling for "Center"). Besides, everybody knows you can't be World Class without a Cinnabon in your downtown.

In all these years, nobody has ever been able to define World Class City to my satisfaction. Are we talking fabled cities like London, Paris, and Omaha? Bustling cities that crackle with energy like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sarasota (before 4:30 p.m.)? Cosmopolitan centers like New York, Toronto and Kendallville?

Frankly, the whole Super Duper Bowl thing smacks of an inferiority complex. "Dallas got a Super Duper Bowl! Detroit got a Super Duper Bowl! If we get one, the other cities won't beat us up on the playground and take our lunch money! People will come here and give us money instead! And then we'll get all the streets repaired, and not just the ones around the hotels and stadium!"

Now, there are some who will argue that a position like mine is anti-football, anti-Indianapolis and anti-progress. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's take them one at a time.

Anti-football: Well, this is just silly. A Super Bowl actually has very little to do with football. The Super Bowl is about money and just happens to involve a football game. The people who believe it is about football are the rocket surgeons and brain scientists who shave their heads, strip to the waist, paint themselves blue and greet each other with cries of "YEAH DUDE! HOOOOO!" On Wednesdays. In June. At work.

Anti-Indianapolis: No. Absolutely not. I love Indianapolis and have considered it World Class my entire life, thanks to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, a World Class Event which does not occur in Paris, London or one of those other backwaters. It also does not send junior high kids around the country bearing notebooks full of boasts and promises.

Anti-progress: Hardly. Progress to me means great schools, safe and clean streets, livable and vital neighborhoods, good jobs. All of which, I might add, are customarily promised when the rah-rahs come up with their proposals.

Look, if we get the Super Duper Bowl, great. Welcome to Indianapolis, folks. Enjoy the game and please leave all your money. I'm sure we'll find plenty of use for it, some of which might even involve the public good.

And if we don't... we don't. At least we'll be able to console ourselves by pointing out that they've never had Super Duper Bowls in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia or a host of other non-host cities. Not to mention Kendallville.



Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. His column appears monthly. You can reach him at mredmond@ibj.com.
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