Sunday, February 04, 2007

A super bowl of "Who Gives a $@*#"

So, the Super Bowl is today. (Is that one word? "Superbowl"?) I was actually reminded of this on the radio only this last week, as more and more "human interest" stories started to come out about the "event."

I'll probably get a lot of anti-American hate mail about this blog...which, of course, is a precisely good reason to write it. So here goes: I'll go on record right now as having a "Who gives a shit?!?" attitude about the whole affair. More and more of the "news" lately is focused on this football game, and every time I hear about it I'm just more and more boggled. (In the sense that I am overcome by astonishment, NOT in the sense that I am shaken around in a clear blue plastic cube. Idiots.) I just can't comprehend why this is such a big freakin' DEAL to everybody!!

Okay, and that concept of "everybody" is a good place to start. I heard on NPR (as my friend Angela says, that's always a good sign of high-falutin' snobbishness) that some 90 MILLION Americans (i.e., U.S. citizens, not ALL of North America...but it's a convenient term) are expected to watch the game. Whoooooo! Let me calculate some numbers for y'all:

• Number of Americans who watched the 2007 State of the Union speech: 45.5 million

• Number of Americans who voted in the 2004 presidential election: 122 million

• Number of Americans who watched the final M*A*S*H episode: 125 million

• Number of Americans who watched the final Sienfeld episode: 76 million

• Number of Americans who watched the final episode of Friends: 51 million

Okay, there. Some comparisons. So, at least the number of folks who VOTED is higher than the number of people who care about a single football game. And, I'm actually HAPPY to report that nearly double the number of people will watch a football game than will watch the Worst President in History fumble (pun alert!) his way through yet another string of lies and empty promises. And, in terms of cultural iconography, this football game ranks up there with some of the most popular television shows, so I guess that counts for something.

The thing's JUST a football game! There's no, like, multi-game "best-of" series, which would make a LOT more sense to me. One game win? Could be luck. Could be favorable calls. Could be the WIND...or lots of other random events. So, at that, this game is really no different from ANY OTHER game you could have watched on any other Sunday or Monday. Or, you know...Thursday, if it's Thanksgiving. But point is: how is THIS game any different than any of those OTHER games?

Some would say it's the commercials. I KNOW we've officially entered the twilight zone. Because...honestly, COMMERCIALS?!? What the fuck?? Now I'm watching TV...for the commercials. Isn't that kind of like subscribing to Cosmo JUST so you can see the face cream and/or tampon ads? Or, like justifying your commute to work on the basis of the worthiness of billboards? god. The day I start watching TV for the stinkin' commercials is the day I officially check my brain into self-storage, because I simply won't be needing it anymore.

One of my favorite (read: most-irritating) things about the whole affair is just the smarmy assumption that "everyone" will be watching. A story that I hurriedly quit listening to in the car last night began with the announcement that "Tomorrow is Super-Bowl Sunday, a day when even the most CASUAL sports fans will gather around the water cooler to get in on office pools...)" GAAAHHHH! There's so much wrong with that I barely know where to begin. I guess the thing that offends me the most is the cultural expectation that I'll BE a sports fan. Uh...WHY?? Okay, so I get all boned up about a bunch of folks wearing the same uniform, located in a city that's more or less close to me, who play a game for a living? And the sense of that is...what exactly? People who think that...oh, I don't know, Barry Sanders was this great football player, and got all hyped up whenever he'd take the field, and they'd scream his name when he'd make a touchdown (he made touchdowns, right? He wasn't, like, the field-goal kicker or something?)...come Monday morning, what exactly was his effect on the lives of these people? How do normal people relate to this guy, in the sense that there's a reason to cheer for him and his team?

I suppose that there's a case to be made for a sort of "regional pride" that sports teams can embody. Or, if your team sucks (as the Lions often do), then at least there's a sense of "community spirit" that a sports team can evoke. I get that, at least on the surface. Hey, as a Kiss fan, I'm certainly not immune to the concept of screaming for similarly-uniformed people who entertain me. But...come Monday morning, I can identify with these guys in the sense that I (nominally) do what they do. I've played my drums before several thousand people, I write songs. Furthermore, I can acknowledge the effects of an overall lifelong devotion to the group. I've had the opportunity to say to them, in person, "Thank you for the positive effect that your music has had on my life. When I've been down, your music brought me up. When I've been happy, your music made it even better." How many people say this to their sports heroes? "Gee, thanks for making that astonishing 70-yard touchdown run last Sunday, that really brought me out of a deep funk." I'm...guessing not so much.

So, yeah. There's my sour-grapes blog about the worthlessness of the SuperBowl. I can do without all the hype, and I can see through the facade of an event made extravagant not because it actually IS, but because people say it OUGHT to be. I plan on spending my day grading, watching a movie I've seen a dozen times me, that's a lot more worthwhile than getting all crazy about a sports event that fewer than 1/3 of the American people will watch.


Blogger Tess said...

I have 3 thoughts about the raison d'etre of the beloved Super Bowl:

Perhaps many US citizens lump the Super Bowl into the same category as family reunions, holidays, and office parties- it's another excuse to drink and eat crap.

Or, it's really just a big celebration of American overabundance and fanfare. It's what makes us think that everything's ok and the same as it's ever been...keep us dumb so we don't see the dumbshit stuff we're contributing to and causing halfway 'round the globe.

Or, it's simply a matter of capitalism in its finest hour. The bigger the hype, the more money that exchanges hands.

I think everyone "picks their own poison" so to speak. For Scott, it's KISS. For my sister, it's Circus Freaks. For my mother, it's gardening. My father goes nuts over conversion tables and internet calculators. For me, well, I'm too busy reading books about psychics and supernatural phenomena to even know what my weirdo obsession is. When I think of it, I'll let you know.

1:49 PM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

Go Bears.

Oh, and while I'm not ready to let this little kitty out of the bag, there may be a reason VERY SOON as to why you may want to rethink your opinion of billboards during your commute.

Hint: Lisa and Mom, University of Michigan.

Until then...

5:35 PM  
Blogger kat said...

Hmm...I'm pretty sure I'll have a comment on this. But first, it's time for me to make some killer nachos, grab a beer, and watch the Super Bowl! Yeeeeeeeeiiiaaaaa!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

i guess you answered your own WTF question in your second to last paragraph.

while not a sports guy, you feel the same sense of togetherness with musicians. The fact that KISS seems ok with just throwing any "FREE AGENT" into the make up and gear, just like fans of sports, is oddly disheartening.

Didn't Seinfield do a bit about rooting for the uniform?

Many sports fans are like long fans as you are of music. True, most arm chair quarterbacks live in past glory, but many still play in local leagues. The identification is still the same.

Being familiar helps, Lisa and i were watching the Wanamaker Mile race Saturday. Just stumbled upon it, flippin through the dial. We saw an ad with Deanna Kastor, funny thing Lisa recognized the face and the name.

Now a year ago, i couldn't tell the difference between Deanna Kastor and Dean Karnezes but now we know.

We all do the same things just in different ways. i'm sure Gknee could name some hot code geeks, other than her hubby. (hot code geeks=oxymoron)

i guess the difference is, i've ran a marathon with Dean.

There was a football game on yesterday?

1:54 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

You know, I can't BELIEVE I'm writing this. Because I hate football, and didn't even know who was playing until Sunday morning, and think the commercials that show during the game cause brain damage, and in general have no use for the whole crappy ball of wax.

The thing about the Superbowl, though, and this is me in my folklorist hat speaking, is that it's become a sort of national holiday. I know, we can argue as to whether it should be one, but nevertheless at this point it is. People build traditions around it--they look forward to seeing their friends and grazing on the same tables of fatty snacks and telling the same brand of jokes and making fun of the halftime show, which is always mock-worthy.

I have gone to Superbowl parties at my cousin Phil's place for years. We used to drive all the way to Chicago for them; now he lives in Kansas, a few hours south of us, so we went there. I suppose I could technically be in that tally of 90 million Americans just because I was at a Superbowl party, but I barely looked at the television, and don't even know how football works. I talked to friends and played with babies and ate my cousin's traditional Mennonite poppyseed cake. I bet a number of people in that 90 million tally happen to be in the proximity of the telly but are more interested in each other than in the teams.

So not to dispute the substance of your argument, since I hate football as much as you do, but to suggest that Superbowl Sunday, in some parts of the USA, has holiday status akin to New Year's and that's only partly due to football. Sorry for the epic-length post.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Suze said...

dude, for hating football so much, you sure have a lot to say about it. grin.

that said, i don't watch the game, either, but i DID partake in some delish guacamole my hubbo made for HIS viewing of the game.

7:54 PM  
Blogger sdb said...

I could say lots of things about how sports and music are similar. But it is your blog, not mine. ;)

Regarding the Super Bowl, some fans find the fact it is a "do-or-die" situation part of the appeal. There is definitely luck involved, but it isn't unlike other sporting events. (Think Kentucky Derby, March Madness, Boston Marathon, etc.)

And lastly, how else would kids these days be introduced to the old rockers like Paul McCartney, the Stones and Prince? (Background: My high schoolers who couldn't name the 4 Beatles? They knew one played during half-time though.)

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

prince you idiot, prince

6:29 PM  

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