Sunday, February 04, 2007

Not Quite Super

Super Bowl Sunday can usually be regarded as a holiday for sports fans, but the truth is, unless you are a football fan and have no regard for any one particular team, Super Bowl Sunday is a bit of a high/low conundrum. Sure, it's exciting watching a Final -- no matter the sport -- so whether it's a Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the World Series or the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 7 -- the last game -- is always exciting because it's a last chance to win it all or lose it all.

But in football, it's Game 7 without games one through six. Fail in the Super Bowl and you're everafter tagged as a choker, a loser or merely regarded as a footnote in an otherwise stellar history of football's biggest game.

My problem with the Super Bowl, of course, is not that this pressure seems artificial, stilted or tense; Game 7's, and Super Bowls, can be among the most exciting games in all of sports. They should be. My problem is that when/if my team isn't participating -- whether the Yankees, the Rangers, the Knicks (or the Giants in the Super Bowl) -- it makes it sort of non-interesting. Granted, I'd rather watch two teams -- like this year's, the Colts and the Bears -- compete in the Super Bowl than a spring training game featuring the Yankees and the Twins. However, I enjoy the sport -- whichever sport that may be -- because I enjoy watching my team compete. So a Colts/Bears Super Bowl is exciting, but I think that more people watch despite the football than they do because of the football. All the other crap -- the ads, the half-time show, the music, the pomp, the circumstance -- it's exciting, but it gets in the way of a game that I, in theory, really want to watch, or really don't care about one way or the other.

Like I said, it's a conundrum.

As a sidebar, something I find very interesting is that the majority of the non-football action -- everything, actually, aside from the ads -- is geared to reach the "pop" audience. So seeing Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, what have you -- is beyond insignificant to me. I would change the channel if I saw any of these particular performers hit the screen, so having to watch the Super Bowl and awaiting the start of the second half, or of some really clever, memorable ads, is akin to masturbating with a cheese grater -- it gets worse by the minute, if not sooner.

Seeing Paul McCartney perform was great -- knowing that he in his latter years can still entertain a crowd made me smile. What bothered me was that the majority of the crowd appeared to be 12-year-old kids who probably have no concept of who McCartney is and why his place in the history of music is so significant. And why they were jumping up and down is a mystery to me; either a) they were picked from a group that has exceedingly problematic genital infections that itch considerably, or b) they were advised by the Super Bowl Halftime Show staff to jump up and down and pretend they were having fun. My guess is it's the latter, although these days, one never knows.

The other thing that has stuck with me with respect to recent Super Bowl history was the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. And that reeked of anything but spontaneity -- it clearly was planned. Nothing wrong with that, of course -- but the whole point of the Super Bowl is the excitement of knowing that anything can happen -- not that MTV specifically okayed Janet Jackson to flash America her right pancake during an extended yawnfest. For that to be one of the most memorable -- or infamous -- memories associated with the Super Bowl, at least that in recent memory -- says plenty about what happens between the lines -- and what doesn't.

One day, I hope the game returns to its roots -- a celebration of football, the best two teams from the NFL, and the spirit of competition. I'd like to see them remove "media day," the two-week hype leading up to the game, and all the related bullshit that pervades what should, essentially, be, sixty minutes of quality football.

Oh, and if at all possible, I'd like to see the Giants represent the NFC more often.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday, enjoy the party, and enjoy the ads. And while you're at it, enjoy the game itself.

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