Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Super" Bowl Makes Me Feel Guilty


Full disclosure(or at least partial): I LOVE Major League Baseball, I LOVE college football and I really, really like college basketball. I like NFL football and NBA hoops. Like most good fans ever since I turned 30, got married, became a parent and started aging, my capacity to be truly fanatical ("fan") about four sports has deteriorated.  I used to have my own season tickets for Husky and Hawks football. Used to buy a partial Sonics ticket package as well as shared season tickets for the M's. I would attended 40 or more games annually, not counting high school hoops. Over the years, my weekly interest in regular season NBA and NFL games has cooled. I find it all interesting, but not particularly exciting, let alone arousing.

So every year, I sit and watch the NFL playoffs with interest, mild interest. I don't watch every game, unless the Hawks are playing. But I watch. And usually attend one of those low level Super Bowl parties that pizza, beer, chips and big screen TV peddlers love so much. We throw $25 each into some barely understandable quarterly, half and full game pools. We eat like pigs, slobbering and spilling food all over the floor and ourselves. Everybody gets very quiet, shushing each other every time one of those incredibly creative and artistic TV commercials comes on. AND....as the kids eat, get bored and go outside to damage toys and each other, many of the females enjoy their third drink, arguing happily over whose husband is the laziest, sloppiest pig. A small handful of men focus on the screen and actually watch the game. I find myself struggling through this because (as I will with the 49ers / Ravens) I usually have little or zero interest in who wins the Super Bowl.

I feel kind of bad as I nod when several of my neighbors high five each other after a particularly well executed 4 yard run off tackle or a crushing hit by a line backer blowing up a bubble screen. As a running back is helped off the field all of my pals seem to have detailed knowledge of the entire career of his back up, a fourth year guy from SouthWesternNorthCentral Puerto Rican State College. Again I nod, yes I have heard he is a pretty good north south runner. I silently ponder the possibility that the Super Bowl football field actually runs east-west. WIll north-south runners simply run out of bounds every carry? And God forbid, what if a running back is a "down hill runner"? I tell myself, relax, this all must be meaningful, look how interested everyone else is!

The stars of a Super Bowl are the 160 players and coaches from the two teams. We better believe these guys have real star power. There aren't over 33 credentialed media people for each of  them (over 5,000 total) there for nothing...I guess. Don''t let the fact that most reporters at Super Bowls spend 98% of their print and air time writing and talking with and about, other media members. Saturday, February 2nd I watched an  ESPN "analysis team" with the sound off obviously talking about the big game. They were wearing those fancy dark banker looking suits. They all had really neat looking haircuts. They were perched on some miniature fake football field, green with fake turf and real advertisements. They were sitting in those high director chairs in a semi circle. They all looked very serious, gesturing with face, arms and hands with great animation. And there were NINE of them!!!  NINE! I recognized Gruden and Dilfer and a few other guys whose names I don't know. The rest could have been Men's Warehouse salesmen for all know. Again, I feel guilty. There is a large crowd of fans gathered around these experts in a live audience. Those fans obviously know who these experts are and cannot get enough of them. There appeared to be no current players or coaches there at all.

The attention grabbing TV advertisements at $4 million per 30 second spot took up 47 minutes of the 2012 Super Bowl. In contrast, at about 65 plays per game there is around 11 minutes of actual football played in a Super Bowl. I know. Don't act like the pregame, half time and post game shows along with sideline reports, "cheer leaders" and TV crew analysis aren't really gripping, even riveting!

And the game itself is very important to all involved. Not only do winning players and coaches receive the biggest, heaviest, tackiest rings ever produced, they get a winner's share of $88,000! Incredible! On average an NFL player is paid a base salary of about $1.9 million per season or $118,750 per regular season game. So that $88,000 is like a 4.6% bonus, pretty cool. Boeing had a great 2012 and all its non-executive workers were given a mere 4% bonus. This is real folding money! And I know that this is true, pure  capitalism, at work all this money. Never mind that more than 33% of all attendees for Super Bowls are doing so as a corporate tax deduction. I don't feel really connected to the Super Bowl? Wait a minute!!! I am actually subsidizing the attendance of a third of the crowd! I am a contributor! I am feeling more a part of things now.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say, "Never mind!" Have a great Super Bowl anyway!



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