WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Egalitarianism is the philosophical foundation of our political
—Hoover v. Meiklejohn1
When two former U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, sat down the evening of February 6, 2005, at the Fox Network sports desk, they delivered more than the planned message. Ostensibly the two appeared on the Super Bowl pregame show to win support for tsunami relief efforts. However, in choosing this event as their venue, they embraced an unabashed cultural and political fact: Sports matter.2
Athletic events, they confirmed, are more than entertainment, exercise, or pastime. Sports—football and the Super Bowl in particular— provide one of the largest and most important stages in American society. Some 86 million U.S. households tuned in to watch Super Bowl XXXIX. By contrast, four days earlier just 38.4 million tuned in to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address.3 The NFL may be among the most superbly packaged and marketed athletic