Debating the Super Bowl Protests: Is CBS Columnist Gregg Doyel really proud to know nothing?

I thought I was reading The Onion. Seriously. I was emailed an article written by CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel about Occupy activists targeting the Super Bowl because of the state imminent “right to work” legislation, and I thought I was reading The Onion. I thought it was a caricature of the uncurious, apolitical, sports jock-columnist who belches, "Politics are for nerds! Durrrrrrr...." My confusion came from reading lines like, "I'm not here to tell you what 'right to work' legislation would mean to Indiana for two reasons: One, I don't know. Two, I don't care." 

When I realized that this was an actual column, and not pretend, I went back and tried to take the arguments seriously. Doyel is "full of resentment that the Occupy movement would use our passion for the Super Bowl against us, infiltrating something we love so we have to focus on something they hate" - namely the “right to work” legislation Doyel doesn't bother to understand.

Doyel wrote primly of the protest, "It's inappropriate." I have to wonder if it was Doyel's paycheck being threatened, whether he would think it appropriate to resist. But for all he knows, "right to work" is a breakfast cereal, so we're left to wonder.

He then writes, "protesting the Super Bowl is unfair to the teams involved and the fans of the game." This ignores two things. The first is that the players, as represented by the NFLPA, have come out loudly and proudly against “right to work.” Nowhere does Doyel mention this crucial fact. It's absence is negligent.

Doyel also claims that the spectre of politics will repulse fans "liberal and conservative alike.” Has Doyel ever watched the Super Bowl? Politics swamp the game, whether it's General David Petraeus flipping the coin, sexist commercials, military flyovers, or interviews with whoever is in the White House. Still, people somehow have the ability to separate this from the game itself. I watched the game last year with a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and if they could separate the politics from the fun of the game, then I think others could do it as well. Also, given the way working people have seen their wages and benefits gutted, who's to say they wouldn't be thrilled to know that the game is being used as a platform for something other than

Then Doyel references my column in the Nation, where I describe the big day as "Woodstock for the 1%." He agrees that the game is unaffordable but says that fact is also "shortsighted nonsense. The Super Bowl generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the host city and surrounding areas, an economic boost that cannot be ignored simply because you can't go."

Doyel doesn't cite anything in regards to this economic impact he describes. He doesn't cite anything because the numbers don't exist. Doyel also doesn't account for the $400 million of public money that went into building Lucas Oil Stadium (having a new or refurbished megadome is now a prerequisite for hosting the game.) He doesn't account for extra money spent on the kind of post-9/11 security the game demands. He just says it and we're supposed to accept it.

Doyel ends with a blunt threat, writing, "I'm irritated too. Irritated at the self-centered protesters who would take their unhappiness with the government and aim it at the Super Bowl. Be careful where you aim that thing, protesters. You'll alienate people who otherwise might be inclined to think you're right. Lots of people -- lots of us -- are on the fence on the Occupy movement. Don't push us too hard. We might hop off in a direction you won't like."

There were sports columnists in the 1960s who said people like Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King, Tommie Smith and John Carlos should just shut up and play, They said sports and politics should never mix. History has not been kind to these sportswriters. I would encourage Gregg Doyel not to join them. I’d advise him to get in touch with the NFLPA, get in touch with the AFL-CIO, and, yes, get in touch with the Occupy protesters of Indiana to actually learn why they feel the way they feel. I’d encourage him to learn the facts and decide for himself. I’d also ask him to not be so proud to know nothing.

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Dunce Cap Award

Thanks for your article Dave. Doyel's was one uninformed screed. I went to tell him so, and the list of folk doing so was long, so I wasn't going to spend any more time in that pursuit.

Wake up Dave!

The Onion is real.
Where do you think are? Sweden?
"...A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them - make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together...."
MLK, 1967

Right on, Dave

At times I've thought Dave was pushing the connection between sports and politics too far. When he compares major-league strikes to working-class strikes, it feels like a stretch.

But when he acknowledges how players can use their influence to support working-class movements, he's not only accurate (many players are doing so) but supporting those players and encouraging them to do more. And that's exactly on the ball.

Right to Protest

I can't think of a better place to protest than the Super Bowl.Doyel is wrong when he states the planned protest is inappropriate. DZ is to quick on the draw to dismiss the economic impact of the Super Bowl for the host city. He states the numbers "don't exist' but I can't see how they would less than a few million when one considers food and lodging. Without the SB I can't see Inidanapolis bulging with tourists in the first week of February.

DZ has mentioned in previous columns that restaurant/hotel workers are hurt when the lockout was called by the owners. Now SB XLVI can only benefit workers and protesters. Sure the effect maybe transitory but I suspect if you ask the workers they still would favor having the SB in their city.

Economic benefits of the Super Bowl - or not

apolitical could mean very political

Those who purport to hate politics always seem to attack the progressive faction of every debate, don't they?

I've heard wise people say that to be against politics is certainly a political stance on its own, because it means you support the system as is. Really, that's conservatism in a nutshell. Preserving the power that exists. Liberalism is questioning the power.


RobThomas is right on. Apolitical doesn't exist.

Labor unions are a drag on employment and the economy

Labor unions raise wages somewhat for the employed members. But they raise unemployment for people who aren't members of the club (often racist union leaders). And they harm the economy as a whole.

Why would anyone cheer on unemployment, and drags on the eocnomy?

I love the Super Bowl. Shut up and drink your beer.

Right to Work

This is really Zirin at his best . . . to the folks who say "stop politicizing ..." You might want to think about how history sees Avery Brundage and the other folks nodding along with you. Don't worry, your opposition to "Occupy" is already noted and not significant. Next . . .

doyel is a moron

this guy is just so interested in making HIMSELF the story. look, i know that he just does sports at cbs, but someone has to tell him that he does bear some small responsibility to at least learn what he is trying to write about. someone like one of those editors at cbs, perhaps.

Doyel actually makes a few meaningful points

The gist of Doyel's piece is that protesting at the game alienates some of the people you're trying to persuade. This is an important lesson for any political protest. Take Doyel either as a voice of wisdom on this matter or as an average midwesterner (white guy from Cincinnati as he is). If you're a protester, you don't necessarily need the support of the people who are already on your side of the aisle. You think of the undecided people in the middle and decide how to win them over, rather than alienate them.

Doyel writes many columns throughout a week, I suspect some of them with the assumption that most people will disagree with him in the first place.

This one is actually not that polemic. He also mentions that the protests were held at the statehouse rather than the Super Bowl venue. Important enough distinction, that. If that is the case, it sounds more dramatic to make the whole story out as a false choice between the game and the protests. To that extent I disagree with Doyel, in that the protest is at a state capital government building, as it should be. The masses can take the protests on their terms, or ignore it if they so choose.

Nevertheless his point about the economic impact of a Super Bowl weekend matters. Even if it is done for the benefit of 1%, people outside of that class do still benefit. Remember, this is not a Colts game where mostly local denizens simply spend money at various establishments. Rather, it's out-of-towners visiting who would not otherwise be in Indy.

Safety Zone

I watched the game a block away from the stadium and kind of enjoyed the aggressive Christian preachers strewn about downtown Indy relaying messages of condemnation to just about every class of other human being that walked by. I did not enjoy nearly as much the $7.50 domestic 'light' beers in 16oz containers. I'm pretty sure that beer money went straight to the 1% and shareholders. I confess I was drawn to the spectacle.
I was quoted 12, 13, 14 for a single ticket. I declined. Probably like many people, I thought about what else I could do with that money - vacation, used car down payment, throw a party, buy Pacers season tickets, but I came to no conclusions.
I also wondered if there were more African Americans in the stands (excluding former NFL players and invited celebrities) or on the field. Politics is where you find it, and unavoidable once you assemble thousands of people. I found plenty of it, but little diversity within three blocks of the stadium.
I rode my bicycle from two miles south of the stadium, and saw hustlers selling street parking for $20 in front of some rough housing. There's no outward indication that the $1/2Billion Lucas Oil stadium has improved those residents' lives much.
I chained my bicycle to the fence surrounding the Rolls Royce building across from the stadium and wondered what the trade-in value of my bike would be. I had a couple of beers to calm my conscience, and enjoyed my Stooper Bowl in the company of people more or less from my social class - somewhere firmly in that %99. I kept my protest to myself - more out of a lazy or selfish hopeless rather than a belief in the sacredness of the occasion. I don't think anyone who took that bike ride could uphold the pristine corporate shine of the Super Bowl without a good dose of denial, financial incentive or absurd rationalization. I rode my bike back to the car, and the car started, which was ultimately more satisfying than the beer.

Super Bowl Protests

Oh, yes, atheletes should just play - they're not human?
As for protests, they will always be.

Doyel's Column

I too wrote to protest Doyel's know nothing column. He responded with an ad hominem insult. Sayonara, Greg. There is enough foolishness written about sports on the internet without wasting my time on his.

I have gone from being a typical rabid sport's fan as a kid, to my present academic at best interest. Who can care what happens to bunch of millionaire? Loyalty has been completely leached out of the whole thing. Too bad. It used to be fun.

Organized sports definitely function as a popular opiate, the "bread and circus" of our times, with the bread supply getting tighter.



I highly doubt most protesters are too awfully concerned with winning over potential supporters regardless of the cause. The majority of grassroots movements I'm aware of never participated in popularity contests to expand their message. They do, and should, take advantage of high profile events like the Super Bowl to get their point across to a wider audience. Bravo Occupy Super Bowl.

dumb journalists

Who loosened up the gates and let the dumb people into journalism? What checkpoint must one pass to get a national job?

Won't somebody somewhere in a management position finally say, "Get me the best-prepared, polished, and worldly journalist out there. My audiences demand it."

Self-deprecating is one thing; just plain dumb is another.

I believe the journalists who show their stupidity regularly laugh at the boss as they laugh at themselves -- all the way to the bank.
Too bad for the qualified journalists.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to
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