Super Bowl: No Wonder They Use Roman Numerals
I 'm betting Monday morning newscasts will lead with where President Obama and his challengers watched the Super Bowl.
Expect quotes like "... fine American tradition ... puts partisanship aside ... takes your mind off unemployment, health insurance and foreclosures for a few hours."
Look at this week's New Yorker magazine cover. There sits the commander-in-chief, beverage bottle in hand, big grin on face, watching Mitt tackle Newt on the field. The impact knocks off both helmets as the combatants dive for a fumbled ball.
In real time I figure Mitt is honor-bound to support the Patriots, which foists Newt, Rick and Ron upon the Giants. That's OK. New York delivers a ton of convention delegates.
Ah, Super Bowl Sundays. That stormy January decades ago when the Chippendales (male exotic dancers, in case you forgot) came to town for a Super Bowl widows' show. Flick chick double features. A spa special for unpatriotic gals who chilled the beer, dumped the Cheetos, zapped the hot wings and tiptoed out.
I'm not anti-Super Bowl. The people who are probably turn off their porch lights and hide in the back room on Halloween, too. In theory I am pro-Super Bowl. It stimulates the economy because nobody is hurtin' so badly they can't afford a TV the size of a pingpong table. And a keg. And the friendly wager of a week's salary.
This bowl flushes out the flush who pay scalpers a grand for a ticket. It licks the bone of contention between fan and spouse (maintain gender neutrality, Deb). Because this bowl isn't just a jolt to the retail revenues between Christmas and Valentine's Day. It is weeks and weeks of hype culminating in a setting reminiscent of the Gladiators' Bowl at the Coliseum. Why else the Roman numerals?
Except this blood sport is played by mercenaries, not slaves.
That's my beef. I love college sports - wild about basketball, especially. An allegiance usually comes into play: a family alma mater, the alma mater of the sweetie you're trying to impress, your home state university. Players compete for four years (except the mercenaries who go pro) and graduate. They can be kicked off the team, they can transfer, but they're not traded. Scholarships are the reward. They play for glory.
Professional football is a business - and there's no business like show business. Quarterbacks become the lion (or praying mantis) kings. The million-a-minute ad thing and halftime performances are brilliant ploys to attract non-fans. Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" an accident? No way.
Tonight, at sports bars coast to coast, nobody will notice if the chili is cold or the mozzarella sticks soggy or the barmaids sullen. Emotions are so high that if the game gets nasty, no telling what may happen. On Thursday the world cringed at the futbol riot in Egypt that killed 70.
That won't happen here, because it might give the NFL a bad name, decreasing ticket prices and ad revenues. Bad enough that domestic violence jumps on Super Bowl Sunday fueled by physicality and beer.
I don't mean to be a spoil-sport, just a cynic who no longer shares the remote with Super Bowlies. Instead, I'll watch Duke play Miami at 3 p.m. and finish the evening with "Contagion" from Netflix.
Tomorrow, I'll see the commercials and Madonna's halftime romp on "Today."
Madonna, bless her heart, is four years past AARP sign-up age, which says something about the audience.
Another year, another Super Bowl. May the next find the world a better place.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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