superbowl47

I am writing this while watching Super Bowl 47 (or EX-EL-VEE-AYE-AYE if you prefer), so my thought streams might be a little more convoluted than usual.  Add in the stupefying pre-game show, I am unable to concentrate well as I am caught up in the high tech, sternum-thumping music and sensory overload that psyches us up for the game to come. All I can say is, “Wow”… do the Americans ever go big!

Is it me or is the Super Bowl way more than a sports event; I feel like a 21st century Titus or Maximus preparing to watch full-blown Roman theatre.  Based on the hype and pageantry,  I keep expecting to see Joaquin Phoenix lower his thumbs as the vanquished gladiators prepare to retreat from the field of battle – a panem et circenses sort of thing. (Sorry, still justifying that Grade 11 Latin class). I guess that is why it is XLVII instead of 47!

Gladiator

I am convinced the Super Bowl is fantastical. It is no longer a game – it is a Major Event (note the caps). It is a  stunning (not like “holy cow” stunning… more like a “taser” stunning), mesmerizing festivity that keeps us hooked with the promising potential of a  “train-wreck”.

Really, who even cares who is playing? Maybe fans of the two teams (who are the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, if you care).  As for me, I‘ll just root for whoever loses the coin toss – I love the underdog! (By the way,  in keeping with the sheer extravaganza, did you notice the coin toss also included a laudatory speech from the Referee…reminding us how America provides great opportunity for anyone who is willing to work hard… or has a spare $124,707, 285 to payroll a NFL team).

The game is one thing, but if you ask me, most could really care less about who is playing or who will win.  I betcha that most of us are hypnotised by the prospect of gorging on gluttonous volumes of food and gallons of alcohol.  According to msn.com, the stats are staggering – we will consume 51.7 million cases of beer, 6.2 million pounds of nachos (that is a mere 3 million kg for my Euro friends…), 2 million pounds of chips (crisps, old boy…) and who knows what else. After the binge, I am sure all of us will look like NFL linemen on Monday…

NFL HEAVYWEIGHTS

The Super Bowl is simply an excuse to party; a chance to enjoy our first post-Christmas celebration.  Think about it; it has been a proverbial 40 days and 40 nights of roaming the wilderness since our last festival of merry-making. And it is so friggin’ cold and cheerless, that we need something vaguely positive event to justify our want to drink ourselves into forgetting it is only February and Punxsutawney Phil or Wireton Willy has seen his shadow… SO why not drink like a bunch of honey-badgers?!

punxsutawney-phil-photo“But. but, but…” say the football purists among you.  This is really about celebrating American Football!

You sure about that?

I will admit that the Super Bowl is more modestly named than the major league baseball finals, humbly dubbed “The World Series” (in what atlas are the continental United States and Toronto featured as the World? – what about Japan or Korea and Cuba?).  No one pretends that the Vince Lomabrdi trophy is a World Trophy (though it probably has more right to do so than baseball’s).  Football takes the moral high ground and posts for the simple and plain adjective, “Super” (and funnily enough the trophy is not a bowl either, not like the CFL’s Grey Bowl).  I am surprised that the game is not called the Most Fantastic Marvellous Tremendous and Terrific Bowl of the United States of America. “Super”, in comparison seems quite sedate.

But how Super is it?

Well, a 60 minute game is tightly jammed into a closely choreographed 5 hour-long spectacle, showcasing all that emotion, glitz and “over-the-toppedness” that only the US of A can generate. It is a showcase…and why not? It is watched by 11o million people worldwide. I think that is roughly the same size as the seating capacity of New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Mercedes-Benz? Is that even American?)

jhud_sandy_hook-600x450I admit that the spectacle started poignantly, with a Celebration of America…Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook Childrens’ Choir. And though that was a touching moment. that made me think back to the horror and how resilient kids are/ With a nice version of America the Beautiful, I couldn’t help but think of the subliminal and manipulative message it heralded: children who have experienced horrific gun violence singing with an adult who has also suffered through gun violence. A tribute to America or an indictment of the Gun Culture? I am not sure that was all about the pigskin…

And then it moved to Alicia Keys…a great artist for sure. But her stylised US anthem, “a 45 rpm song delivered at 33 rpm”, must have frustrated everyone. Those waiting for the game and those ad execs who were robbed  of an extra ten 30-second commercial spots. And what about her ad-lib at the end? Why don’t our singers do that on Hockey Night in Canada? Oh wait, our singers  know they and the anthem are merely foreplay; get it over with, let’s get to the main event!

So now, 35 minutes after flipping on the TV – the TV guide did say “Super Bowl XLVII @ 1800” – and the game has just started…and now at 1838 hours, it has been an exciting three minutes of football – two plays!

And then on the 39th minute, CBS created the commercial. Lots of them.

Now Super Bowl commercials are legendary and there have been some very good ones over the years. But then again, they should be good at $3.8 million per 30 second spot (that equals $456 million/hour – or  I am guessing, about one minute’s interest on the US national debt).  But I am pretty sure that the Super Bowl advertising revenues subsidise all the CBS Executives’ annual Christmas bonuses. Why else would there be a commercial break every 12o seconds?!  How do you keep up our interest with such a choppy game flow? How do they possibly hope to stoke my competitive fire? Or is it a conspiracy to keep me drinking more Anheuser-Busch and scarfing down Chili Heat Doritos.

kia-slow-walk_s640x427

Anyway if you care, at the half Baltimore has bitch-slapped San Francisco. It has that disappointing feel of another Super Bowl blow out…

BeyonceSo now, I am sitting here having watched two hours of commercials and a bit of football waiting impatiently for the Halftime Extravaganza – Beyoncé…in all her Bootyliscious glory. Now if you have not been tracking Beyoncé – I have to ask why not? (Kidding.)  Seriously,unless you have been stuck under a rock for the last two weeks, you have to know that she is still reeling from that Inauguration scandal – LipSynchgate! The question asked ridiculously often the past week has been “Will she sing live, or will she pull a Brittany?” It was big news on the major news channels.  Guess that civil war in Syria was just too dull.

And because I was not going to make the under-over spread on the game now that Baltimore is kicking ass, I checked NFL.com for the stats to get a reasonable betting line on the Halftime Show.  I found that for Super Bowls played in February in the Southeastern US, where one of the teams is named for a Bird, or if one team’s uniform has gold as a supporting colour, the odds of a lip-synch performance by an act of two or more performers was 83%. Gambling on an NFL trifecta of “lip-synch, wardrobe malfunction and arrest of a starting linebacker for a concealed weapon”, the payout would have been 3800 to 1.  Mind you, those are the odds is in the pre-NFC/AFC unification era – today’s odds might have been less. Unfortunately I could not get that bet into Sports Line before the 6pm deadline.  For once I wished there was a British bookie shop nearby; that bet would have been a nice pairing with my betting stub on whether the Queen would wear Lime Green during the Royal Jubilee Flottilla or whether the new Royal Baby will have 11 toes…

Anyway, all I can say for the half time show, and the much vaunted togetherness of Destiny’s Child, is that after all the hullabaloo, Beyoncé should have lip-synched. It was no Janet Jackson…

And so we move to the last half. Looks like it is might be boring…oh wait, the lights have just gone out. Seriously? Well half of them anyway.  Jeez, why didn’t I put money on that? Wearing my tin-foil hat, I am thinking that SanFran may have paid off some the Mercedes-Benz staff  to turn the lights out – maybe they are hoping for the game to be called off on account of “dark”.  Or maybe it was just good old Mercedes-Benz engineering and a German-manufactured switching transformer blew; don’t worry they can get the parts at the nearest dealer…on Monday!

And so the minutes tick by…and during the glorious 31 minute delay…I witnessed the best of American Sports Journalism. (Okay, I sat and watched it…Loser)  Interviews with the sideline crew, replays of the first half low-lights, detailed analysis on Beyoncé’s “dress”, and explanations on why the Forty-Niners still haven’t showed up for the game. 31 minutes to figure out the lights…amazing that the most technologically savvy country in the world, the one that is the envy of the undeveloped world in terms of infrastructure and wealth, can’t figure out how to play football with only half the lights on.  Anyway, in the stadium there was still enough light for every kid in Africa to read a bedtime story; just not enough for a professional football player to catch a ball. Did these guys never play sports in the dark as kids? Maybe they should have asked all the fans to turn on their cell phones and turn them around – it worked for the half time show. Ummmm….sorry, was that my internal voice?

Super Bowl 47 Power Outage

….Sorry, I was transfixed for the second half. Who knew a power outage would kick start a 49er? Okay the game is over; it turned into a good game. 34-29 for Baltimore…and San Francisco made a game of it.  After 5 hours and 10 minutes of  TV coverage – or 60 minutes of game play –  EX-EL-VEE-EYE-EYE is over.  I hope that I am not the only one who watched it all!

But is it really over?  Wait, here comes the onslaught of post-game analysis. Baltimore will be applauded for their effort and SanFran will be consoled for their bad luck and misfortune;  Beyoncé will be heralded as a great entertainer, and everyone will comment on the ocean of tears shed for brave kids from Sandy Hook.

And for one more year, the Super Bowl will have served its purpose of rejuvenating the Stars and Stripes and reinvigorating America’s love for manufactured goods, food and alcohol.  And for a brief evening I forgot it was the middle of a cold, snowy winter…regardless of the score.  Perhaps like the Roman theatre, maybe that is what it is was all about in the first place. The Super Bowl,  just like the panem et circenses, cures everything.

Can’t wait for EX-EL-VEE-AYE-AYE-AYE!

Later,

ASF

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