Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Stupid Bowl

I'm not nearly the fan of football as I am of baseball, but I have liked it from my childhood. But one thing that irks me about football is its top showcase, the Superbowl. I've felt this way for over twenty years now, and recently figured out why. I much prefer the conference championship games. Even in baseball I prefer the league championships to the World Series, but not to the same degree.

First the obvious. Okay, it's true that I can do without the two week wait, the over-hyped media circus, the endless meaningless human interest stories, and the Vegas line on who will win the coin toss. On Super Sunday I can also do without the pomp of the player introductions, military flyovers, supposedly funny commercials that cost millions per second, the three hour halftime show and its nauseating pop music performances by undertalented, lip-sync'ing plastic people. You could give me a free ticket and I would never wave that stupid flashlight in the dark for the TV cameras. Who cares about Janet Jackson's ninnies anyway? I'm so glad I was looking the other direction at the party I attended. I saw gasps and pointed fingers from my fellow partiers, and missed the whole thing. I don't care who says how beautiful she is, she looks like her brother, and that's gut wrenching enough for me. Evander Holyfield, Ben & Jen, Bernie Mac and Jimmy Carter are in attendance? Another good reason to not be there.

But aside from all the styrofoam peanuts, the game itself is not what the conference championships are. Why not? The games are usually boring with more than their fair share of lopsided yawners. Remember the series of Superbowls where each year seemed to break the previous year's record for margin of victory? 32-9, 38-16, 44-whatever, 55-10? How can this happen between the two best teams in the league when it doesn't even happen in the regular season? Some of those victory margins aren't even duplicated when Nebraska plays Central Missouri Tech. But why?

Football is War

Football as a game, like other sports, is analagous to war, and is played like a war. It is brutal, physically draining, emotionally charged, ruthless and cruel. Teams spy on each other with advanced scouts and endless reviewing of game film. Deception and decoying are employed through the play action fake, showing of blitz, quick counts and flea flickers. The other team is attacked and it defends itself, waiting for an opportunity to attack back. Ground is captured, reserves brought in. To the victors go the spoils.

Neutral Site

Unlike a war, thought, the Superbowl is played on a neutral site. Wars are never fought on neutral ground, but on territory already occupied by one of the armies. This, I believe, is the top drawback in the lack of real excitement of the Superbowl and why teams can be beaten by such large margins. A whole lot can be said of the conference championships in this regard. "Let's go in there and shut 70,000 people up!" is not a motivator in the Superbowl. Nobody's territory is being invaded, neither defended. A token veneer of home and road uniforms is as close as it gets. Nothing feels more odd than two foul-weather teams playing each other in Miami on an 80 degree day with fans and misters on the sidelines to keep the players cool.

The Superbowl to the conference championship games are as the ProBowl to the Superbowl. Sunday's games will be fun. Seattle's fans are hungry. They've not only never had a team in the Superbowl, but never had, to my knowledge, a pro team in a championship of any kind. Pittsburgh and Denver, two classic playoff teams in a classic matchup. Both matchups will outdo any of the possibles for the Stupid Bowl.


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