Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My NFL Experience: Hearing the National Call to Service

Super Bowl 50 has come and gone. The nation woke up with a great hangover. Too much food, drink, festivity have always led me to believe that Super Bowl Sunday should be followed by a national holiday. But it need not be just any ordinary holiday, I believe it should be a national day of service. All members of the NFL from the commissioner on down could lead the charge. It would be a wonderful sight to see.

I learned  from a friend, whose brother is a Marine stationed in Okinawa, that the US Military already has this one figured out. All members of the armed service receive a day off on Super Bowl Monday. I'm glad they do, but I would like to challenge the status quo. 

Rather than giving a day off, why can't we create a "day on." Super Bowl Monday could be a day to serve on a local, city-wide, state or national level—you make the call! This "Day-On" would be for everyone, including those  in service to our country. Such unity could serve as a powerful testimony to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr who said: "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." Those words cannot be just a vision or an excerpt from a historic speech. If we want to be great, we must serve. 

I appreciate that the NFL included live footage of troops overseas in Afghanistan during the national anthem and paid various tributes to all members of the armed services at different points during the game. All attendees at the NFL experience (inside Moscone Center)  were encouraged to hand write a card to men and women serving our country; I was grateful for an opportunity to say "thank you." Indeed, the NFL has more than a few things to thank the US military for, and defending our freedoms  is the least of them. What I considered to be the most interesting exhibit at the NFL experience tops that list.
A fan of Bose, a company best known for its home audio systems and speakers, noise cancelling headphones and automotive sound systems, I decided to stop by the "Bose NFL trailer." In true marketing genius, they lured people in with their flashy sets of headphones in the two colors of every NFL team (32 pairs in all). I happened to make my way inside to try on the headsets that NFL coaches wear on the sidelines. As written on the Bose website, 
Fans at Super Bowl 50 heard firsthand how we enable clear communications for coaches when the pressure is mounting and critical calls make all the difference.

The quality of sound was pristine.  It was incredible for me to have the sheer noise of the crowd (simulated in the booth) totally blocked out from the technology of Bose. On any given headset, coaches have one of two options to distill ambient sound. I also learned/experienced how quarterbacks and other designated players have a similar speaker put on one side of their helmet so they can hear play calling from their coaches. Obviously, they do not wear noise cancelling headphones on two ears as they need to catch the audible /team talk on the field through the other one.
I came to learn that Bose first created these head sets for those serving the US military. They are extremely durable—a primary concern for those in combat. They are also effective. It was a raw moment thinking of the pilot flying a classified helicopter who might wear a similar headset. I was slightly conflicted as I went from thinking how cool it was to be wearing what Chip Kelly wears on any given Sunday to realizing that people these were designed for aren't playing a game. They aren't earning millions of dollars either....and yet nothing is as loud as Autzen Stadium (University of Oregon).

At the end of the day, professional sports are entertainment. And I know they bring a great amount of joy (and heartache) to fans in a way that little else does. I don't doubt that the men and women serving overseas find a healthy diversion from their duties in a weekly game on the gridiron.

In Luke 12:48 we are reminded:
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
We Americans have been given much, let us do something with it. And to the great athletes of the NFL--you have been blessed with incredible athletic talent, a wonderful platform and opportunity to change lives—do more. Let us make the day after a contest viewed by over 111.9 million people, a day of national service. No head phones required. 

Photo Credits
NFL Experience
NFL Bose

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