GZERO Media logo

The Super Bowl is a super lesson in "socialism"

The Super Bowl is a super lesson in "socialism"

Today, at your caucus-themed Super Bowl party, as the 49ers try to hold back the Chiefs, you needn't bother to watch the game itself. Why? We already know who the winner is: the political principles of Senator Bernie Sanders.

That's right. The sport you thought you could rely on as the most 'Merican, capitalist flag-flyin,' Big Gulp guzzlin', red-meat, whitey-tighty, blue-collar battle of uncoddled smashmouth neo-gladiators – and where, might we add, Super Bowl ads cost a pretty $175,000 per second – is, today, an organization committed at its core to the redistribution of wealth. Take from the rich, give to the poor – that's the most socialist of all socialist socialisms, right? Feel the Bern.


Consider: each year, the league seizes money from the richest winningest teams, and redirects it to the poorest losingest teams. So, whoever scores the most points on Sunday will get a bittersweet trip to Disneyland: you may win the game, comrades, but by coming in first you lose millions in league-re-distributed funds. Off you go into the long hard winter of the NFL spring, punished for your success. Call it a wealth tax.

Why does the NFL do this? Out of compassion for teams that fall too far behind. And by compassion, we mean "concern for TV ratings." Lopsided seasons would be bad for viewership, which would be bad for revenue, which would be bad for everyone from the nosebleeds to the skyboxes. Keeping things competitive means tackling inequality on the gridiron.

Not that the NFL has a clean record on competition, of course. Back in '66, the NFL and the AFL merged into a one-state, ahem, one-league, system specifically to keep star players from leveraging contracts between competing leagues. Sure, that was a clear violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, but – quiet, the game's on.

Now, we're not breaking news here. Journalists have pointed out this irony. Comedians too. Even the host of American Idol (not that one, the other one.) Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell decried the NFL as an outfit run by "a bunch of fat-cat Republicans who vote socialist on football." (I'm Bernie Sanders, and I approved this message.)

But before you pigskin pinkos demand every Cheesehead become a dyed-in-the-wool Bernie bro, consider where this comparison falls short. For one thing, wealth redistribution isn't actually socialism. For another, sports leagues are zero sum – you win, I lose – in a way that economies and societies really aren't. And plus, if the NFL were really socialist, it would give workers control over the means of production: if that were the case Patrick Mahomes would be Most Valuable Executive Vice President by now.

The touchdown: This analogy doesn't quite hold up, despite it being a perennial claim. It's like Tom Brady's footballs – seemingly airtight, yet deflates somewhat upon further inspection. But our prediction is you'll hear it again next year.

Our other prediction: Chiefs by 9.

Kevin Bleyer is an Emmy-winning veteran of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Dennis Miller, and the author of Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

More Show less

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

More Show less

In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal

Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream