Super Bowl 52 and the Super Paradox

Uh-oh!  Donald Trump just tweeted during Super Bowl 52.

Wow!  Bet you never saw that one coming.  In hindsight, maybe those additional 140 characters weren’t such a good idea.

Oh, don’t worry so much.  Nothing unusual ever happens on twitter.  It’s always the same predictable drivel.


or every once in a while…

Yes.  That seriously happened back in 2013.

I guess when you tweet 36,600 times in 8 years, you’re bound to cover just about everything.

When it comes to twitter, here’s something to keep in mind.  All tweets have one thing in common.  They’re simply a collection of characters.  Letters, numbers and symbols.  Nothing more, nothing less.


Every year, a slew of articles are written about Super Bowl security.  2018 is no different.  After all, the Super Bowl gets a Department of Homeland Security Level One Special Event Assessment Rating.  It’s the highest threat level designation.  And it sounds like they’ve got everything covered.  Thousands of officers (uniformed, undercover, SWAT, bomb squad, snipers, etc.), dozens of additional camera installations, 2 miles of fencing and concrete barriers, 100 explosive-detection dogs, all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, and so on.  Every federal department, every state agency is looking for an angle.  DHS, FBI, even the Coast Guard.  They all want a piece of the action.  Hey, it’s one of the biggest bashes on the planet earth.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Much is happening in the invisible domain of wireless infrastructure as well.

Once again, the NFL has brought in Extreme Networks to provide stadium Wi-Fi.  The move is necessary to alleviate routine network congestion.  Last year’s Super Bowl in Houston featured Wi-Fi usage in the 11,000+ terabyte data range.  That’s because everyone at the big game needs to post ‘dem selfies, share those pics and stream that real-time video.  Gee whiz, if you can’t prove you’re in attendance, what’s the point of even going to the Super Bowl?

So back to my original concern.  Considering all that physical safety and technological security, will someone… anyone… just tell me what U.S. Bank Stadium’s game plan is if Trump tweets about a hijacked plane hitting the building?  I know, I know.  Apparently, this guy hasn’t heard about the no-fly zone?  Well yeah, I have.  But I’m not sure that covers it.  And truth be told, I’m pretty sure nobody else got the memo — 66,000+ fans, sports enthusiasts, mankind, take your pick.

Of course, Trump would know better.  Right?  Well, I’m not so sure.  Lots of people watch the Super Bowl.  It’s a pretty big deal.  What if he was feeling jealous about the size of the crowd?  What if he envied the “unpresidented” television ratings and decided to make the Super Bowl about himself.  Maybe he witnessed something that made him upset (someone kneeling during the national anthem or not properly holding their right hand over their left ventricle).  Maybe he’s angry that so many people are watching the commercials, as opposed to following @realDonaldTrump #MAGA.  It’s really hard to say.  It’s been a long year.  Has anyone noticed that #45 is kinda impulsive and behaves with the intellectual sophistication and judicious temperament of a wild teen on Maury Povich?

But on the other hand… maybe a private plane is flying toward restricted air space.  Maybe a pilot inadvertently turned off their transponder.  Maybe Trump received an emergency briefing regarding preliminary reports of an actual civilian plane hijacking.  Or maybe his twitter account was hacked.  Remember?

My point — bad things don’t happen.  Until they happen.

Here’s the deal.  There is no real-world contingency plan for the modern, technological equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in a crowded stadium.  Let alone, a black swan occurrence during what many consider the biggest, one-day sports spectacle of the year.

Minneapolis Commander Scott Gerlicher, Super Bowl public safety director — please forgive me.  I beg you.  I don’t wish to crash your big, huge Super Bowl party.  Especially in the Trump era.  I’m sure it’s gonna be a really, really great event.  Wonderful, terrific, amazing, incredible, and quite literally, super!!!

But you might want to “kick off” your safety meetings by acknowledging the question a silly child would ask.  What if, someone bad, tries to do something mean, with all those cell phones?  Ya know, the question the adults in the room refuse to put on the table.  The one that’s been deemed undiscussable.

There’s a reason that all of those talented professionals and all of those skilled experts are reluctant to chime in.  Call me naive, uh, uh, I dunno.  But it’s something called a catch-22.

Acknowledge a problem, and you own it.
And if something bad happens, you’re totally screwed.

Because you didn’t do enough to prevent it!

It’s funny how all that money and all that security can’t touch a challenging paradox.  Maybe “funny” isn’t the best choice of words.  Let’s go with “dangerously ironic” instead.
And that could very well be the “melodramatic understatement” of the new year.  No exclamation point required.

Post Script:  I’ve never dedicated an AGSAF article, but this one goes out to @wpxigigi.  Her contempt for Trump inspires me, as it should… all of us.  Nostrovia!