05 February, 2011

Superbowl XLV: Church and lawyers; sex and violence:

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Superbowl Sunday is the biggest day in United State's sport, but the big-day has been gravely impacted by outside influences. 

 Superbowl Sunday is the biggest day in United State's sport, but the big-day has been gravely impacted by outside influences.
Two of American football’s most intimidating teams will collide tomorrow in Super Bowl XLV, watched by 95 million people but overshadowed by two long-running headaches for the sport: concussion and pornography.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers meet in Dallas, even as two groups of lawyers prepare class-action lawsuits that could result in multimillion-dollar damages being awarded against the National Football League for victims of an epidemic of brain damage among former players.
At the same time, several players who have confessed to an addiction to pornography will appeal to the congregations of hundreds of churches in a video sermon released on Super Bowl Sunday to raise awareness of what they are calling instead “Porn Sunday”.
The sport’s stars have been recruited by an online church, the XXXchurch, devoted exclusively to fighting the spread of a temptation that it calls “the elephant in the pew”. They will promote free software that sends an e-mail to the user’s spouse every time he or she access a pornographic website.
The church’s founder, Craig Gross, has targeted NFL players for their name recognition but also because the sport’s image has suffered by association with the sex industry and because of serial sex scandals involving some of its biggest personalities.
10,000 extra strippers working in Dallas for Superbowl weekend
Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ quarterback, was suspended for the first six games of the 2010 season after two allegations of sexual assault. Hines Ward, the Steelers’ captain, marked his arrival in Texas for Super Bowl week by taking a group of teammates to the Dallas Gentlemen’s Club. The club is one of more than 30 strip clubs near the stadium that have taken on 10,000 extra strippers for the weekend, according to local reports.
The video sermon, being shown in more than 300 churches, tackles a more private predilection, and one that Mr Gross says is five times more likely than average to affect evangelical Christian men. Eric Boles, a former wide receiver for the New York Jets, says in the video: “No one knew my problem was this bad.”
The NFL faces a more serious threat to its future from a campaign that has been gaining momentum for three years to make radical rule changes or even outlaw the sport because of its links to dementia-related illness. A series of investigations by The New York Times has found that professional American football players are between 5 and 19 times more likely than the general population to suffer from Alzheimer’s or similar diseases later in life.
A follow-up investigation this month by The New Yorker found that two law firms were preparing class-action lawsuits against the league that could give relatives as well as players a chance to pursue their former teams for compensation.
Packers v Steelers will be a hard fought tussle
The lawsuits will focus on two safety publications produced by the NFL. One is a pamphlet published in 2007 stating that research “has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is treated properly”. The second, a poster released last year, states that repeated concussions “can change your life and your family’s life forever”.
A backlash against the emphasis on safety has already begun, however. “Violence is not only embedded in football,” Buzz Bissinger, a football columnist, wrote recently. “It is why we like it.”

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