Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday, Hunger, and Cancer Research

It's probably not too hard to figure where this is going, but I'm going there anyway. The figures are astounding, and frankly, troubling, embarrassing, and I'm really not to sure that God's smiling about this at all. If I had to guess I'd say God's far better at math than me and if I can do the math, well, yeah, God's probably not smiling today.

People affiliated with today's Super Bowl are though! Can we say "BONANZA!" These figures are from the Huffington Post and about today's game. A game. One. One face-off between two teams. Not a whole season or a decade of games. One game. One. Several grown men are going to see who can rack up the most points playing with a football, getting dirty, tackling and running and kicking and throwing. It won't take too terribly long out of today's 24 hour period.

For their playtime, the men on the winning team will each pocket $88,000. Yes, that's correct and not a typo. Eighty-eight thousand dollars for one game. But they're the winners. The "losers" on the other hand will each pocket a "mere" $44,000. Forty-four thousand dollars to lose a ballgame. Either figure is more than most people make in a year and these men will make it in one ballgame.

Those sponsors who buy air time during this one ballgame will pay 3.5 Million dollars for each 30 second commercial. $3,500,000 for one commercial.

Now, we can say, well that's the NFL or corporations...entities. But there really are people making those financial decisions. However, for arguments sake, let's call them the NFL and corporate entities and look at what ordinary people are doing to bankroll today's one game.

According to the Huffington Post, an estimated 5 million people will buy new TVs for today's game! Now, I'm pretty sure that not a one of those TVs will cost $100, but let's say every one of them costs $100. That would be an estimated $500,000,000 (five-hundred million) dollars spent on new TVs! If those TVs even cost $200, that's one billion dollars. To be ready to watch the big game.

Fans are expected to spend $11 Billion (eleven billion) dollars on Super Bowl related purchases. The Indianapolis economy is expected to grow by $200-250 Million due to the Super Bowl alone. As you look in the stands, those folks paid a minimum of $2100 per ticket. Hot dog not included. And if you want 34 of your nearest and dearest watching the game with you in a field-level luxury suite, you paid $650,000 for the privilege. All of the above can be found in this article.

I'm a lectionary preacher and today's Scripture readings were Isaiah 40: 21-31; Psalm 147; 1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9: 16-23; and Mark 1: 29-39. God and later Jesus God-Incarnate, stand with the invisible of society, the broken and weak. The sick and hurting and despised. Those are the people God aligns Himself with. So, I preached these passages, on Super Bowl Sunday and that's how I came to have those figures handy. That led to me to search out other figures.

These come from Catholic Relief Services and Stop Hunger Now. Worldwide, each day, 25,000 people die from hunger...16,000 of them are children. During the hours of the Super Bowl, several thousands of people will die from hunger and over half of them will be children. That's a statistic for one day.

Each year, five million children will die from hunger and so will over 3 million adults.

One billion, 1,000,000,000 people around the world are seriously food challenged. They are hungry. They aren't missing their mid-morning snacks; they're missing meals. Daily. And starving.

Each year, 17,000,000 babies around the world are born underweight due to inadequate nutrition before and during the mother's pregnancy...not due to other factors...due to malnutrition.

Today, billions of dollars are floating around because of a football game.

It would take $195,000,000,000 (195 Billion) a year to end world hunger.

Something's out of whack with this picture. I really don't think God's smiling.

So, since I have melanoma and am curious, I also look up what's spent on cancer research. That takes money that, somehow or another comes from people...tax dollars, donations, etc.

This is the latest table from the National Cancer Institute:


**Source of spending data: NCI Office of Budget and Finance (OBF).
Cancer Type  2008 Spending
(in millions)
  2009 Spending
(in millions)
    2010 Spending
(in millions)
Lung$247.6$246.9$281.9
Prostate285.4293.9300.5
Breast572.6599.5631.2
Colorectal273.7264.2270.4
Bladder24.125.922.6
Melanoma110.8103.7102.3
Non-Hodgkin
Lymphoma
122.6130.9122.4
Kidney43.445.244.6
Thyroid14.614.715.6
Endometrial
(Uterine)
17.118.014.2

They also add: "Other federal government agencies, including other NIH Institutes and Centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense, fund cancer research. In addition, state and local governments, voluntary organizations, private institutions, and corporations spend substantial amounts of money on cancer-related research."

I couldn't find a tally of all the monies taken in for research, but somehow, I think if they were able to raise the kind of money the Super Bowl does and on the scale of the Super Bowl, we would be further along than we are. Strides are being made and they're exciting, but research costs big bucks. Treatments, once they've been developed, cost big bucks. It ain't cheap saving lives.

The life those research dollars save may be your own or the life of someone you love. The dollars thrown into all aspects of the Super Bowl will do many things, but saving a life probably won't be on the list.

The life saved when dollars are given to feed the hungry may not be yours but it will be someone made in God's image. The blessing will come back to you. The blessing that will be given to someone else will be far more lasting than any memory associated with today's game.

I'm sure today's game will be great fun for many people. I'm just not so sure God's going to be smiling at it.

I have a feeling God's going to be with the hungry and the sick. The broken and the tired. The invisible. God will be in society's cheap seats, not in a $650,000 luxury suite.

This short, simple study of where some of our dollars can go has been eye-opening and eye-popping. For me.

I've got decisions to make. I like walking in the direction God is heading and I like Him to look at me and smile. I haven't bought a thing associated with the Super Bowl and don't plan to watch it. I could care less about it. But I have other priorities that need to be re-examined in light of this.

I have to practice what I preach. Walk the talk. We all are called to do that. God's got my attention.

And I am grateful
.