Sunday, February 1, 2009

Steelers and Cardinals: Please Take One for the Team

That Super Bowl Sunday "is about the commercials" has become one of those hoary truths of American life that I have grown to resent. I don't call it a shibboleth because it is, alas, undeniably true in a certain sense: advertisers pour gigantic sums of money into tee-vee advertising on this day. A tedious brand of media industry navel-gazing -- itself now a part of the observance -- never fails to chart the details:

NBC announced it has sold all of its available ad spots for the network's Super Bowl telecast today. The network generated a record $206 million in advertising revenue for the game telecast and $261 million for the entire day, NBC announced.
Blah blah blah.

Here's the thing. I happen to like NFL football, which means that I have somehow contrived to care about who wins its championship games. There are a great many of us who follow professional football, which is why its championship game has become such a draw for advertisers. But I loathe the overblown spectacle the Super Bowl has become, with its endless advertisements that are too clever by half where they aren't insultingly stupid, and its overlong halftime show carefully calculated to give members of every conceivable demographic at least three things to love and twice as many to hate.

It has become the football game for people who hate football.

I would like to see it become a football game again, somehow. I question whether this is possible, but this is my suggestion: I offer the vain hope that the two teams playing today, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, will put in the most shamelessly awful football game they can. Drop easy catches. Fumble for no reason. Make dumb mistakes you haven't made since grade school. Punt a lot, then punt some more. Run when you should pass, pass when you should run. Miss field goals you should never have tried in the first place. Blow opportunities. Refs, you can do your part too -- make terrible call after terrible call.

This is probably a bad idea. For starters, Super Bowls past have been notoriously bad games, and yet here we are. I don't know how we can climb out of this hole that the NFL's success has dug for its championship game, but there's got to be a way.

No comments: