The Obligatory Super Bowl Metaphor

When the lights first went out in the Super Bowl, I thought, "Now here is a great, unintended advertisement for sustainable energy." I instantly thought about making it into a metaphor of standardization. However, another blogger has done that more successfully and succinctly than I would have.

But I think it's interesting to see what happened in the moment. The Ravens looked upset. They seemed to internalize a self-fulfilling prophecy that the power outage would be a game-changer (and it nearly was. Indeed, the 49ers were five yards and two missed holding calls away from a victory). The normally chill John Harbaugh screamed at every available official.

Despite the fact that his team still had access to technology and resources, he used the time to complain bitterly and try to fight against a system that he could not control. Meanwhile, the smug-looking man in the suit calmly dismissed his rant and reassured "another ten minutes."

I contrast this to what we saw on the opposite side. The 49ers should have stared at the scoreboard and realized it was impossible. Instead, Jim Harbaugh pulled out a clipboard and talked with Colin Kaepernick about play adjustments. Then he grabbed a football and began to play catch. While the pundits questioned whether he should go to Alex Smith, the former quarterback demonstrated his trust in the rookie quarterback.

Yes, it was simply a warm-up to keep his quarterback fresh. But it was also a reassurance. It was a game of catch. It was the rare moment in the game where Jim Harbaugh was actually smiling.

And so it has me thinking about a broken system. There's a time and a place to complain about technology failures (all of a sudden slow internet doesn't seem like a big deal) or about bad infrastructure or fire drills that interrupt great lessons. We need advocacy.

However, in the midst of its failure, I wonder if the best thing we can do is find a way to play catch.


John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

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