1-28-09: Super Hype

Hello again everybody...

Time to turn the corner on this week and get headed for the weekend. And it can't come soon enough. Those of us here in the upper Midwest are finally emerging from another deep freeze. And if your workplace is like mine, you're trying to dodge the latest virus that's going around (I failed in that endeavor).

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm fairly positive it's not an oncoming train! Super Bowl 43 is headed our way on Sunday. I haven't delved much into the NFL this year, but I can't help but wade into the media frenzy that surrounds the single largest spectacle in sports. Is it all too much sizzle and not enough steak? I'll discuss.

"A healthy adult male bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience."
- John Updike (1932-2009), American novelist, poet, short story write, art and literary critic

Thank heavens I'm not boring... right? Right?!

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Speaking of things that aren't boring, Sunday brings us the 43rd edition of the largest media/sports/entertainment spectacular in modern American culture: the Superbowl.

There are people who'd argue that the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is a bigger sporting event because it spans 3+ weeks. And there are those who'd argue that events like the Olympics or the World Cup are bigger because they involve the entire globe, rather than just America.

But I don't think any single event quite brings together the worlds of sports, pop culture, and advertising quite like the Superbowl.

Do you know anybody who's not watching this thing on Sunday? I don't.

I know people who couldn't name 5 players collectively off either team, but I don't know anyone who won't be watching at least part of it. If they're not football fans, then maybe they're watching for Bruce Springsteen at halftime. If they're not fans of the Boss, then maybe they're watching for the commercials. Whatever the reason, people watch this event in numbers unseen in any other sporting spectacle.

Which brings up an interesting question. Because the Superbowl transcends other sporting events, becoming a cultural icon unto itself, does it lose something in terms of a pure sporting event?

Is the fact that we crown a NFL champion on Sunday drowned out by the talk of which new commercial will be the best, or whether there's a wardrobe malfunction?

I'm not a huge NFL guy personally. I watch, but I don't feel attached to any teams like I do in baseball and college football. But if I had to name a team I'd like to see in the Superbowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be tops on the list. So I'm happy that the Steelers are the favorite going into Sunday.

Yet, I don't feel like the game's really the thing anymore. Even amongst my most ardent sports-fan friends, they're more into prop bets (who wins the coin toss, who scores first, who turns the ball over first, etc., etc.) than they are into the actual game.

I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

On the one hand having all the extraneous hype and sizzle brings in people who'd ordinarily never watch sports and allows them to experience the wonder of athletic competition at the highest level. That's probably a good thing.

But if the beauty of sport gets overwhelmed by whether NBC runs the PETA ad showing scantily-clad women or not, or by whether Bruce Springsteen includes "Thunder Road" in the halftime show or not, then are those folks who aren't normally football fans really experiencing the things that make the game great in the first place? I don't know if that's such a good thing.

Then again, if the game's a stinker (and there's every opportunity for Superbowl 43 to be a "less-than-picturesque" game) then maybe it's a good thing to have all the outside hustle and bustle involved.

The 2008 World Series is not going to go down amongst the annals of baseball as one of the more exciting championship series. And unless you were intrigued by the weather interruptions, there wasn't a whole lot else to hang your hat on.

But if Superbowl 43 is a blowout, or an ugly, low-scoring affair, there's still all the razzle-dazzle to entertain us. And if you're a sports-fan, wouldn't you rather have people watching, even if they're not seeing the greatest game in the world?

These are the things I'm pondering as I watch the ridiculousness of "Media Day" and listen to the debates of which ads will make the cut, and which ones won't. I don't pretend to have the answers, but I think it's interesting to look at the game on Sunday from that perspective.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, I like the Steelers to cover the spread (-7) and if I had to, I'd take the Under (46.5)!

Enjoy the game!

That's it for today. I'm back on Friday with more DFTU goodness for you. Until then, stay safe, and thanks for reading!


  1. I can't believe you didn't say anything about the Arizona Cardinals! They've had quite a long journey to get where they are on Sunday. That should be worth some comment! And, your Mom and Dad live in Arizona and we're cheering for the Cardinals!

  2. Yes, and you and Dad have been driving the bandwagon the whole way...

    ... or not.

    The game itself wasn't really the point, or I'd have definitely mentioned how good Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. has been this post-season!

    But thanks for reading!

  3. Ummm... yes you do know someone who's not watching the Super Bowl on Sunday...

  4. I freely admit, I watch for the commercials.