I really am not sure whether or not I am allowed to say Super Bowl. I assume I can say Super Bowl? But I really don't know if they'll come for me for saying Super Bowl.
The Seahawks of Seattle are playing the Patriots of New England, and regardless of what you think of the teams (and there's a lot to like and dislike about each of them), you really have to marvel at the sheer audacity of the spectacle. Half of America will be watching the game. A billion more from around the world will tune in to watch a thing they barely understand for reasons beyond their comprehension.
Katy Perry will perform at halftime, and if you aren't expecting some kind of controversial thing happening, you haven't been paying attention to the Super Bowl lately. In addition to the sporting contest that will happen, which is the closest we can get to modern-day gladiatorial combat while still pretending to ourselves that we are more than the base, animalistic impulses that underscore our every action and deed. Whether it has to do with lip syncing or wardrobe malfunctions or controversial guest stars, something will happen. Something always happens, because reporting the score of the game isn't enough. We've got to get at least a week's worth of news out of this cycle. Even a non-story about a guy not wanting to give reporters sound bites for stories is a story.
The tautology of the entire affair has driven me away from it over the last few years. The event is important because of all of the attention we give it, which makes it important and cause us to pay more attention. Last year, I caught about four minutes of actual game time. The year before, I am pretty sure the Ravens won? I will be watching the game this year, if only for the fact that my brother invited me to his house for the game.
Don't get me wrong, I like football. There was even a team when I would have said that I loved football. But I've never been wild about the Super Bowl, at least not in the last fifteen years or so. Giants-Patriots Part Deux was the last game that I watched from start to finish. The best playoff game I have seen in the last ten years is the Vikings-Saints NFC title game, where it turns out the Saints were purposefully trying to injure Brett Favre.
And that's probably what broke it for me, because whether or not there is a pay-for-pain scheme organized by a handful of players (there was), rewarding each other for injuring opponents (they did), it is kind of silly to see them punished for sanctioned violence when the NFL itself is more or less built on those same principles and concerns, i.e. paying people to hit other people. Perhaps not as directly, and they certainly can't admit to it, but given the nature of the sport, it is unavoidable.
It is going to be a game, though. That much can be said. And I'll put on my best pair of hypocrisy glasses and play along. it will take more than four hours to play, and we'll gorge ourselves and stare at commercials (side note: people who watch for the commercials? This is mostly their fault [probably]), listen to announcers plot out narratives to follow, parse out story lines from the previous week's media self-flagellating, and tell you again about the new season of Blacklist, moving to an all-new NBC Thursday. What could possibly be more American than that?