|Occupy Indy made an appearance in November; Doyel says they should lay low this week. (AP)|
INDIANAPOLIS -- They're going to ruin the Super Bowl. That's their goal, anyway. They want to drag their political baggage to Lucas Oil Stadium and dump it there, making such a mess of Super Bowl XLVI that the rest of us have to shift our focus away from the game and onto the Statehouse four blocks away.
They want to Occupy the Super Bowl, and there's not a damn thing you or I can do about it.
This is not a political column, at least not in the sense that I'm advocating for either side of the Occupy movement. I'm human, so I have thoughts on the matter, but they're not relevant here.
This is, in fact, an apolitical column. Or anti-political. Whatever it is, it's 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. And what they hate is the "right to work" legislation passed Wednesday by the Indiana senate, legislation that would make Indiana the first state in the Rust Belt to prohibit labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues.
If you're not into politics, so be it. 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. Not here. Not this week. Not at the Super Bowl, the single greatest annual event -- sports or otherwise -- in this country.
That's precisely why the Occupy movement is coming, of course. Because the Super Bowl is the single greatest event in our country. What better way to amplify a political statement than by attaching it to the megaphone that is the Super Bowl? Throw a rock in town and you'll hit a media member. Occupy the Super Bowl, and we'll write about it. Look at me here, Pavlov's dog, salivating over the bell being rung by Occupy protesters.
They first rang it Saturday, in advance of Wednesday's vote, when roughly 100 protesters marched through downtown Indianapolis, chanting "Occupy the Super Bowl." It'll only get worse from here, but don't take my word for it. Listen to the AFL-CIO, which issued a statement in advance of Wednesday's senate vote that said, "We are going crash their party and remind them that we aren't going anywhere."
NFL security chief Jeffrey Miller said Wednesday that the league is "aware of the movement, but we don't believe it's any great threat. All indications are the group plans to express its First Amendment rights, and we support that."
Nice answer. Politically correct. But the AFL-CIO statement -- "We are going crash their party and remind them that we aren't going anywhere" -- isn't merely ominous. It's infuriating, because the Super Bowl isn't the place.
People on the left will say that it is, noting as The Nation's Dave Zirin did: "The Super Bowl is perennially the Woodstock for the 1 percent: a Romneyesque cavalcade of private planes, private parties and private security. Combine that with this proposed legislation, and the people of Indiana will not let this orgy of excess go unoccupied."
And that's correct, up to a point. Tickets to the Super Bowl have become so expensive that it has become a reward for the rich. When I wrote Monday that the NFL was considering moving Super Bowl 50 to London, the only "support" I saw for the move came from frustrated fans who said it doesn't matter where the Super Bowl is held; the average fan can't afford to go anyway.
Compelling, but 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.
While the Super Bowl is indeed an "orgy of excess," that's one fact that omits another: The Super Bowl, even as a monument to the 1 percent, helps pay the bills for the 99 percent. Restaurants, hotels, taxis, memorabilia shops -- those are staffed by the rest of us, and the rest of us make a financial killing off the Super Bowl.
Protesting the Super Bowl would be illogical, but that's not even my point. My point is, protesting the Super Bowl would be unfair to the teams involved and the fans of the game. It would be inappropriate. It might even be damaging to an Occupy movement still trying to gain national traction. The Occupy movement already has trod onto dangerous ground of late, protesters burning the American flag outside City Hall in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday. People didn't like that, even people within the Occupy movement.
People won't like the Super Bowl being disrupted, either. Liberals, conservatives, I don't care who you are. Lots of you, most of you, won't be pleased to have your time wasted Sunday with coverage of the Occupy movement outside Lucas Oil Stadium. Lots of you probably are irritated that I'm wasting your time today, writing about the Occupy movement instead of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's ankle or Giants quarterback Eli Manning's legacy.
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.