We've just witnessed the greatest spectator sporting event in America. We viewers were millions strong and even more of us listened to all the hype leading up to "The Day." Yes, most of America eagerly awaited a gridiron battle that would determine not only a winner, but also who owned football's bragging rights for a whole year. Even folks who aren't ordinarily football fans tuned in to watch advertisements worth $3.5 million for just 30 seconds of our time. We watched a half time show that alone cost multi-millions of dollars.
The teams spend millions and millions on the players, but reap millions and millions on the television rights and the rights to the team jerseys' usage. The owners get to pour all this money into a sport and then sit back in a luxury box and soak in all the glory.
What a country we live in. We can spend millions, probably billions, promoting sport and competition and leisure activity.
Ah, praise the Super Bowl.
Don't get me wrong. I, too, watched the game, as I do every year. I'm an unabashed football fan. It's not baseball (my true love), but I really, really like football. I love the competitive nature of athletics. I love the fact that so many of us remain true to our hometown teams long after we have left our hometowns. It's that sense of belonging to something, I guess, that makes it important to carry the flag for our home city, or state, or even part of the country. We all need a sense of belonging and community and ownership; a sense of "that's mine" and I am vested in that. You and I are connected through our love of our team. Sure, we are spectators, yet we feel we are right in the middle of the game. It's the Super Bowl, after all.
Think of how much money was spent on food during the Super Bowl. Oh, I know how much money was spent by those 70,000 fans that were lucky enough to get tickets to the game. You've got to believe that they consumed some of the most costly burgers and fries that were ever presented on a paper plate. The chili dogs and beer costs alone could probably feed every person living in a homeless shelter in that very City of Indianapolis for a year. But that is just a morsel of what America ate on Sunday. We can't forget all the Super Bowl parties that took place in homes all across our country on just that day alone. Think of all the food gobbled up -- and wasted.
I'm not here to be say shame on anyone. I think the festivities of Super Bowl Sunday represent the kinds of things we ought to do as Americans. Come together every now and then and cheer. Cheer the victorious winners. Cheer that we live in a country where we still have the freedom to be a spectator and revel in the excitement that sport really is, knowing that even though one team will lose, we can be confident that no mobs will storm the field and kill and maim the victors. No, we love our sports in this country because we love our country. We still sing the Star Spangled Banner before our sporting events and most while singing along with it still stand out of respect. It's the Super Bowl of patriotism.
But, I wish for a day when those folks in our society who are going hungry on a daily basis can be part of another kind of "Super Bowl." This bowl I envision is an actual bowl -- a bowl filled with nourishing food that allows them the dignity of living in their own home without having to worry about where the next meal will come from and just how they will pay for it. I wish for a day when we put our collective energy together and say that hunger is not a spectator sport ... that it can be eradicated by those very same people who come together on any given Sunday to cheer for a team, or a player, or a city, or for year-round bragging rights. Those very same people who are our neighbors and friends and relatives. But only if they, we, get out of the bleachers and on to the field.
My wish is that we do not forget about what fills those other bowls and who could be fed by those bowls. There are 7.5 million seniors in America today who either face the threat of hunger or who are, in fact, hungry. That means that 1 in 7 seniors in this rich and food-rich land faces the threat of hunger. My wish for them is that we do not forget them. My wish for them is that you too will join me in this fight.
The organization I lead doesn't have $3.5 million for a 30-second ad to show you the face of a senior who is forgotten behind a closed door. We don't have jerseys with the names of the almost 8 million hungry seniors emblazoned on the back of them. We don't sit in luxury boxes enjoying the fruits of our labor. But we are committed to winning this battle.
Hunger is not a spectator sport. Our Super Bowl is emptying of the ingredients necessary to sustain life for millions of hungry seniors. We can't wait 'til next year. Our time is running out.
Enid Borden is the President and CEO of Meals On Wheels Association of America.
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Meet one of the seniors we serve, Mrs. Brown: