The NFL game to be played tonight between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons at the Louisiana Superdome will be a major step forward in restoring the aura of wealth and prosperity back on New Orleans, the city that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina a year ago.
Tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern time, amidst the pomp and pageantry of the NFL's monday night games, the Louisiana Superdome will cast off the depressing image Americans have been associating with it for all of last year, namely, as a refuge for poor black people huddled within its cavernous interior, battling the hurricane raging outside. Instead, the Superdome will once again regain its former image as a place where rich black athletes compete against each other once every two weeks, six months of every year.
Although most of New Orleans' black neighbourhoods still lie in ruins, the return of football to this city is an important milestone in the mission of making New Orleans habitable for tourists staying there for upto two days at a time. It is hoped that the plan for diverting the money earmarked for building schools, hospitals and government buildings into the rebuilding of the Superdome will return rich dividends by bringing football fans to the city, whose fanatical desire for hot dogs, alcohol and marijuana will provide a shot in the arm to the hospitality and drug peddling industries that were the worst hit after the hurricane.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn defended the decision to rebuild the city one football stadium at a time. "If you can rebuild a place that's 1.9 million square feet, you should be able to come back here and rebuild a 3,000-square foot house.", said Mr Horn. "And now that the Superdome has been reconstructed, we now know for a fact that building a 3,000 square foot house indeed lies within our capabilities."
Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco who was responsible for getting the FEMA to pay up 120 million dollars towards the reconstruction of the Superdome, said, "The Superdome was symbolic of a lot of misery. It is now a symbol of recovery. We hope that the brand spanking new sports arena will be a model for New Orleans residents to emulate as they rebuild their own homes and communities on their own."
Governor Blanco also pointed out that a significant portion of the reconstruction of the football stadium was carried out using FEMA funds collected through donations made by hurricane victims themselves. Recognizing the importance of football to their devastated city, these people voluntarily parted with the funds they had received from FEMA as hurricane relief after receiving a request from FEMA to return that money back to the government.
As tonight wears on and the image of NFL players wrestling for possession of the football washes away the image of hurricane refugees wrestling for food and space, the return of football to New Orleans will embody the very basic of American values : Symbolism over Substance.