What does the SuperBowl have to do with Germany?

IMG_3546Until yesterday the answer would have been not much. But since the New England Patriots won their first Super Bowl yesterday, Germany has now been linked to this most American of American all-men games. Naturally, it is a man who connected the two.

Sebastian Vollmer, a German national born in Düsseldorf, played for the Patriots and is the first German to win a Super Bowl title.

German news media spread the message to such an extent that my dad, who usually does not watch any kind of sports, German or American, noticed the news. He remarked that even Germany’s most watched newscast, die Tagesschau, found this worth airing, along with the remark that “violence, concussions, and deflated balls made for a hard year in American football” [Gewalt, Gehirnverletzungen und zum Schluss noch Bälle, denen die Luft ausging. Der amerikanische Football hat ein hartes Jahr hinter sich.]

The Tagesschau also reported that few German companies sought to use the overprized ad space of the Super Bowl; among German car makers only BMW was propagating its electric car as the wonder of the future.

Other German news media highlighted that Vollmer did not touch the ball once but served as bodyguard to another player and that Vollmer gave his first interview barefoot; most news media included Vollmer’s quote after winning: “I have no words. It’s insane.

The generally optimistic magazine Focus commented: “Germany has its SUPER-BOWL-HERO! Sebastian Vollmer writes football history.” [Deutschland hat seinen SUPER-BOWL-HELDEN! Sebastian Vollmer schreibt Football-Geschichte… ]

What do I make of this?

Simply, in the asymmetrical distribution of attention around the globe, German news media and people pay a lot more attention to U.S. sports and culture than vice versa. Luckily, Germans are also aware of the problematic sides of U.S. sports culture, see violence and injuries.

Moreover, German (and U.S.) news media like to declare heroes, especially men. And no matter, which nationalities are involved, it goes unreported that the Super Bowl as THE sports-entertainment-consumerism orgasm of U.S. culture is an all-men event when it comes to players and commentators. Of course, women are invited to stand on the sidelines, watch and dance half-naked in between.

So you have a white German dude as part of the men’s fest this time. Big deal.

The more interesting story is to find an event with all-women athletes and all-women commentators in the United States or Germany (or any country for that matter) that would rival such a nationalist-capitalistic über-celebration regarding viewership, hyping, and dollars.


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