Somewhere, Amid the Hype, There’s a Football Game

It’s a good thing the Super Bowl is played on Sunday because if it were Monday there would be great pressure to have a three-day weekend declared. The Super Bowl has become a national celebration for which the actual game is just a pretext.

Over 144 million Americans will watch Sunday’s game and it will be broadcast or distributed to 230 countries. Who knew there were 230 countries?

Super Bowl XXXIX – Roman numerals will survive as long as the game does – is an excuse for a grand national party. It’s like New Year’s Eve. Even people who hate it want to be invited somewhere. So even fans-for-the day _ who betray themselves by cracking up over the position “tight end” _ are hosting or attending Super Bowl parties or going with friends to a sports bar to happily yell their heads off.

Being Americans, many of us put our money where our mouth is. Las Vegas sports books report $100 million in legal bets, but the total handle – legal and illegal, friendly wagers and office pools – is probably around $1 billion.

Being Americans, we have made the Super Bowl into an exuberantly, even ludicrously commercial event. Super Bowl TV ads, especially at halftime, have become an event in themselves, and, at $2.4 million for 30 seconds, the commercials are as competitive as the teams on the field.

The hoopla surrounding the game has also become a social barometer, as witness the national overreaction to Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” last year. Did it say something particularly pertinent about modern American social mores or was it just stupid? More people probably remember that – since the incident was endlessly replayed as TV “news” – than who won the game.

For several hours Sunday night, we will be one nation gathered around one TV program, witnessing a quintessentially American spectacle. And somewhere in there is a football game. Enjoy.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)