Monday, February 2, 2015

I Still Watched the Super Bowl...

The Super Bowl is the biggest event on the American sports calendar. It is the biggest non-political shared experience in the modern United States, which means the only event that attracts more people to it is voting for President every 4 years. This singular game no matter the teams has become an integral part of Americana, and yet it seems to have become fashionable to not only avoid watching the game, but hating it. There are many reasons to not watch, and to not want to watch, but no matter what you do, it's the Super Bowl, and the Super Bowl is going to win.

If you wanted to not watch the Super Bowl because of the NFL's season from hell, that's fine. The NFL really doesn't need your specific pair of eyeballs, but if you didn't want to watch because of the league's disastrous dealings with concussions, or their shambolic treatment of domestic violence, that's fine. No one can begrudge you for that. If you didn't want to watch the game because the average margin of victory in a Super Bowl is over 2 touchdowns, that's fine too. If you didn't watch because you steadfastly wanted to stick to your guns about how the Super Bowl pales in comparison to the Champions League final, etc., that's fine too. No one is judging you for it. 

If you wanted to watch the game only for the commercials, that too is a-OK. In a distinctly American event, why not watch for the commercials since ad makers spend the most time and money creating them just for this day (except Nationwide, who wants your children to die). The same goes for the halftime show. It's an event within the big event, and there may be as many Katy Perry fans in this country as football fans. Certainly was worth the show, although the dancing sharks were a bit much. 

But I was still watching for the game, despite the halftime show, and the commercials (even though they've gone dramatically downhill in recent years), and the stupid controversy about deflated footballs, and all of the baggage that Roger Goodell's league has had to tote around all season, with the biggest game of them all ending somewhat fittingly in a brawl, I still watched. Many people still watched with their eyes focused solely on the game. And they were richly rewarded.

Even despite the game, the Super Bowl is basically the last generally shared American experience aside from voting for President. This is as distinct an American experience as it gets. Overly patriotic? Check. Overly capitalistic? Check. Does it feed our desire for a primal sense of gladiatorial combat in the arena of battle? Check to that. And there is nothing like an entire country reacting in shock to one of the craziest catches in Super Bowl history followed up 2 plays later by one of the most shocking play-calls in Super Bowl history. If it's any other game, football fans would have seen it, but it probably wouldn't have resonated in the same way. Same with how a bunch of deflated footballs became headline news on the alphabet networks and CNN.

You will not be deported from the country if you said you didn't watch the game. It's as American to exercise your freedom of choice as it was to sit down and watch the epitome of Americana. But I can't change my own innate desire to watch the Super Bowl, not only as a football fan but as an American. Even though the over-the-top jingoism of the Super Bowl pregame including betting on the time of the national anthem, I still love the over-the-top jingoism of what the Super Bowl has become.

And I love how every Super Bowl seems to create household names out of thin air. Malcom Smith, Timmy Smith, Dexter Jackson, now Chris Matthews and Malcolm Butler; those stories are what truly make the Super Bowl so special. The distinctly American tradition of working your way from nothing to something and lives changing overnight is on full display here, and that too is part of the charm of the event that is so American in everything it is and represents.

So if you didn't watch Super Bowl XLIX last night, all the power to you. There were many justifiable reasons for that.

But just know that you missed out on not only a helluva game, but a hell of an American experience, that no matter what you think about the game, the league, and the country, we can all relate to. 

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