Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Watch or Not To Watch (Super Bowl edition)

There's an event going on tonight that over a hundred million people could watch. And before this highly publicized episode of Glee, a football game will be played as well. Hiyo!

Truthfully though, Super Bowl XLV (45 for those playing at home) will be played tonight around 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. But is this game even worth watching? I mean, there have been 44 others before, and they're all pretty much the same, no?

Let's weigh some pros and cons.


The Green Bay Packers are playing for the title
Let's be honest. The Green Bay Packers were the NFC favorites for this game since 3 years ago. It's obvious that there is no one within the league who is upset that the Packers are playing in the Super Bowl. And that in and of itself is enough reason to dismiss this game. Preseason favorites, especially ones who have had as many over-publicized injuries as Green Bay has, cannot be accepted as legitimate contenders, i.e. that they earned the spot simply through their own efforts. (Full disclosure: I am a Chicago Bears fan, but I also admit that the better team did win two weeks ago).

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are doing the play-by-play
In a game as important as this--the nation's biggest sporting event--fans want to watch and listen to a game that pits the two best teams, and everything should stack up evenly. But Buck and Aikman's love of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers can only be surpassed by their love for their own personalities. In Joe or Troy's eyes, Rodgers is never at fault for a mistake; it was either the offensive line, wide receivers, or coaches that did something wrong. And Rodgers is always the end-all-be-all for why the Packers win, even if a touchdown came by way of the defense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing for a 7th Super Bowl title
Maybe it goes back to our break from England, but our country generally doesn't like long reigns, whether it is in sports, politics, or business. The Patriots became loathed by half of the country and loved by the other half when they won 3 championships earlier this century. There is no middle ground. The Steelers are on the verge of doing the same thing tonight. When the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals two years ago and moved into the sole ownership of most SB titles, people were thrilled that the Cardinals were competing for their first championship in franchise history. Same thing with the New Orleans Saints last year. But now we have the most dominant Super Bowl era franchise playing one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. Despite what the media is billing this game as, that sounds like "Old boys club" to me.

The bureaucracy of the NFL has gotten out of control this season
Whatever happened to letting the players play? Whether it was the week one call that overturned Calvin Johnson's "touchdown" or the crackdown on helmet to helmet hits, the league is turning fans off of the game by over-analyzing every play on the field. Much like in the world of business, too many regulations only hinder the system itself. When a quarterback can no longer be hit like any other player on the field, how is that any different than crony capitalism that hands out tax breaks only to certain government approved industries? I was upset to see the how often the referees involved themselves in the NFC Championship game, which included the longest rivalry in the NFL with two of the league's oldest teams. That was a game that should have been black and blue all over, but over and over again we were seeing nothing but yellow thrown.

My room really needs cleaning
This is obviously a subjective objection (subjection?) to watching the game. But I'm sure we all have something better we could be doing than spending an entire day watching a football game that doesn't concern 85% of us. At least during the season "your team" is playing just about every week. But now, when we are down to two teams, is it still worth watching when one of them is not the team we root for?


The Black Eyed Peas are playing the halftime show
This interests me quite a bit, actually. Ever since Janet Jackson's boob fell out 7 years ago during a halftime show presented by CBS, the Super Bowl halftime show has featured traditional (read: boring) musical acts. I'm not saying a show has to have half-naked women to be interesting (although that sometimes helps), but with the exception of Prince's penis-shaped guitar antics, there hasn't been anything that could constitute relevance to the halftime show in half a decade. The Black Eyed Peas have the potential to make this halftime show watchable again. With songs like "I Gotta Feeling", "Pump It", and "Let's Get It Started" (oh how I wish they would perform the unPC original version "Let's Get Retarded"... Damn you Sarah Palin!) the energy in Cowboys Stadium will be immense during halftime. Sure, everyone knows Tom Petty's songs, and The Boss is famous, or something. But those old farts are just that... old. The Black Eyed Peas have been around long enough to show they deserve to be performing on this stage, but at the same time can still attract an audience of future NFL viewers.

The commercials?
There is always that niche of viewers that "watch for the commercials." But like the halftime show, the commercial experience over the last seven or eight years has been pretty lackluster. We've seen the birth of the E-trade baby that now is played out. We've seen the Go Daddy Danica Patrick commercials that sucker countless Americans into "seeing the full unedited clip online." Commercials are commercials; is there really anything revolutionary in them? I suppose we'll have to give the cryptic "wait and see" answer.

In the end, football is still football
As I stated in far more words earlier, I can't stand the Packers. I have no qualms about saying I hope every one of their players suffers some sort of injury today. But I still hope both teams bring it, and that the outcome is decided by who moves the ball the best, and not by who pleads their case most eloquently (or emotionally) to the referees.

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