Column: Super Bowl fun
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08
Oh the Super Bowl...
For my independent study I had to order this anthology of sports writing and one of the stories in it was a piece by Hunter S. Thompson. The work was cleverly titled “The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved” and it appeared in Scanlon’s in 1970. With a title like that, how can one help but give it a read?
The work is a gem, and it’s not far off from today’s Super Bowl scene.
The basic premise of the piece, which if you can find I highly recommend reading because it’s hysterical, is that Thompson and a painter named Steadman attend the lead up to the Kentucky Derby and then the race itself simply to observe people.
You can sum it up with this line from the story: “And unlike most of the others in the press box, we didn’t give hoot in hell what was happening on the track. We had come to watch the real beasts perform.”
What ensues is a documentary of how a supposedly proper and orderly affair with rich men well-dressed, and ladies in expensive dresses daintily wearing massive hats, is in all reality a riot. The derby reeks of drunkenness, shouting, racism and enough gambling happening to make a Vegas bookie uncomfortable.
Which brings me to yesterday. That was less of a football game and more of a popular culture phenomenon designed to rake in as much cash as humanly possible.
Examine the economics of Super Bowl Sunday.
The average cost of a ticket to the game was somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,600 and that’s just to put your butt in the seat; that’s not including the inflated cost of a hotel or airfare. Well what about the cost of a commercial during the big game? Oh it’s about $3.75 million, or if that doesn’t impress you then think about it as $125,000 per second.
About 100 million people watched last night’s game, too.
I can guarantee you that there aren’t 100 million football fans in this country. Most of the people watching this game at a friend’s house or something wouldn’t know a touchdown pass from a field goal and are just in attendance because it’s a social event.
Now, I’ve had friends tell me this is a good thing. It’s the one day a year when a wife, girlfriend, sister or any other non-football fan—it could be a male—will watch a football game. How can it be a bad thing?
I’ve attended and hosted enough Super Bowl parties in my short 22 years of life to know that if you’re really trying to watch football, it’s a bad thing.
It’s a bad thing when people keep blabbing on about how they can’t hear the announcers because others are too loud—trust me, the talking heads won’t be bringing anything insightful to a game.
It’s a bad thing when a really sweet and well-meaning person becomes an annoyance by bringing in new plates of nachos every 46 seconds and I end up missing a big throw down the field.
Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal nailed it with two predictions for everyone’s Super Bowl party.
First, “there’s also going to be someone at your Super Bowl Party who says, with three minutes left in the game, “Wait, the head coaches of the Ravens and Niners are brothers? That’s incredible! Why didn’t someone tell me?””
Second, “There will be someone at your Super Bowl party who doesn’t know the story of the Manti Te’o hoax. This will take between two and seven hours to explain, and they will still be thoroughly confused.”
Then you get to the halftime show. Believe it or not, from 1967 to 1990 just about ever game intermission featured a marching band or a drill team of some sort. It wasn’t until my birth year of 1991 that a popular band performed when New Kids on the Block were the stars of the show. From that point forward, halftime had ceased to be merely a game intermission and it became a full-fledged concert, which brings the “I watch for the halftime show” crowd.
It might sound like I’m whining here, but I’m really not. I wouldn’t have the Super Bowl any other way.
When the on-field action grows dull, that’s when I got to momentarily sit back and watch the real game unfold.
Follow Dan on Twitter @DanAgabiti