An “XL” Celebration Deserves “XL” Respect

DenisePopiolek

Written by Josh PriceLately the city of Detroit has become the focus of the sporting world. It all began a few years back when the Red Wings were unstoppable, and the city was known as “Hockeytown”. They were soon followed by the championship run of the Pistons, and last summer the baseball All-Star game was held at Comerica Park. While all these events have shed much light on Detroit, they all pale in comparison to the events to be held the first week of February 2006. The greatest sporting event in the world, which this year will be watched by over a billion people, will have all eyes on Detroit. The question is, with all this positive publicity in recent times, why is the city still looked down upon by so many reporters and individuals?

The criticism about the condition of the city of Detroit started the last time the Superbowl was held here in 1982. A reporter from Sports Illustrated went on television and talked about how horrible the city looked from his hotel window, and how all he could see was the Southfield Freeway. More negative publicity came about when the city had riots after the World Series victory in 1984. These events, along with the fact that many people who used to live in the city began moving to the suburbs, started the downward trend of Detroit’s image.

While the majority of these types of events happened over two decades ago, the stereotype of Detroit as a dirty, run down, crime filled city still lingers. The problem is that most people already have an image in their head of what Detroit is like based on what they have heard from others. Visitors from out of town fear walking through the streets based on fictitious robberies and horrible conditions that the media continues to falsely publicize. The people who continually criticize Detroit are those who are not from the area or have never even set foot on its streets.

These critics have never come to the inner city to see all that Detroit has to offer. They have never set foot in Greek Town to have dinner at Pegasus or Pizza, watch street performers, and maybe spend some extra case at the casino. They have not once gone down to Heart Plaza for ice skating in the winter, or to enjoy the fountain and the river. They would never be seen getting authentic food in Mexican Village, catching a show at the Fox Theater or the Opera House, or seeing live music at the Magic Stick. They have never ventured down to see the Taste Fest or the Electronic Music Festival which is the largest of its type in the world. The city stays in the shadows because of the image created by the critics in the media, not because of the way it actually is.

On February 5th and the days leading up to the Superbowl, Detroit will prove the critics wrong.

The 2006 Superbowl will be the biggest party the world has ever seen, and Detroit has risen to the challenge. Throughout the week, the expected 300,000 visitors can spend their time at the many attractions the city has set up.

The entire week will be part of “Winter Blast” which is in it second year of existence. Included in the festivities are a 200 ft. long snow slide, a sledding hill, and outside stations for roasting marshmallows. There will also be sled dog and snow mobile exhibitions, as well as snow shoeing and ice skating. There is plenty to offer here for people of every age.

Another attraction in Detroit will be the wide range of musical acts and concerts. Artists, both local and national, will be performing outside during Winter Blast. Other major performers will be Smash Mouth, Clint Black, Kanye West, and Kid Rock. One of the most unique events will be a concert by Snoop Dog in old Tiger Stadium which has been covered for this event.

Cobo Hall is where the “NFL Experience” will kick off. There avid football fans can fulfill their dreams of playing like the stars, as well as meeting some of them. Included in the event will be clinics, player interaction, and interactive challenges.

The rest of the country can see what Detroit is all about on January 30th at the Fox Theater. “A Detroit Salute” is a tribute to the city, its auto workers throughout the years, and its strong musical history. It will also include a presentation of the 40 greatest sports moments in Detroit history.

There is nothing that proves the quality of Detroit more than having one of its own playing in this years Superbowl. Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis is a graduate of Mckenzie high school in downtown Detroit. He spent his entire childhood within the boundaries of the city. He has since then grown to become the fifth leading rusher of all time, and is a player that is respected and looked up to, both as an athlete and a human being, throughout the league. Now, it what will most likely be his final season in the NFL, Bettis is returning home to play for a championship. He will be able to show the media exactly what a native Detroiter is like, and be a new icon for them to judge the city by.

While Bettis is one example of how Detroit will be represented in the Superbowl, there are other examples. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks embody the blue collar work ethic that Detroit is known for. Both teams are hard working, tough teams that are focused on a strong running game. They each also have strong leaders in Matt Hasselbeck and Ben Roethlisberger. But most of all, each team has a tenacious defense that can take complete control of a game. Each of these attributes that make up a championship level team is also those that are held high by any Detroit auto worker.

During the festivities of Superbowl week, it is obvious that some visitor will linger outside of the downtown area to some places that are run down and have abandoned houses. I know it’s hard to believe, but there are areas that don’t consist of two story houses with white picket fences. Instead these parts of the neighborhood are poverty stricken. But when it comes down to it, what major cities in the United States don’t have places like this? Look at New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles and the exact same thing will be seen.

Superbowl XL is Detroit’s time to shine. The city has been held in a negative light for too long. Sports analysts and talk show hosts have put down the city and have made people imagine it at the worst place in America. As any person from the city where he or she calls home, and they will proudly say, “Detroit.” This championship game and festivities will surpass those of any other in the past 40 years. And while the downtown and it’s one billion dollars of preparation is offering so much to its visitors, they ask for only one thing in return. During this year’s Superbowl celebration, go to Detroit with an open mind and enjoy all that the great city has to offer.


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