p. Countless pizza boxes lay strewn across the floor, as their half-eaten contents spilled onto an already tattered carpet. A sprawling bone yard of mangled chicken wings teetered precariously over the edge of a scrappy futon, their pungent aroma permeating throughout the apartment complex. Numerous two-liter bottles, having rolled helplessly onto their sides, steadily dripped remnants of flat soda onto a warped table. As I gazed across the fiasco that was my living room, a feeling of sorrow welled deep within my chest. After my friends and I had punished eight boxes of pizza, 70 hot wings and four two-liter bottles of Coke the night before, I felt as hopeless as a young child on the day after Christmas. However, my empty feeling was not the result of an absence of presents. Instead my general state of despair was due to an epidemic that strikes millions of sports fans across the nation each February, the dreaded scourge commonly known as “Super Bowl Withdrawal,” or “SBW.”
p. Far more agonizing than the widespread condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), SBW grips sports fans at approximately 9 a.m. on the Monday morning immediately following the Super Bowl, and doesn’t let go until over a month later at the outset of March Madness. Although SBW only lasts about one month, the symptoms make the illness virtually unbearable for both the infected fan and his or her friends and family. Symptoms of SBW may include, but are not limited to, a general sentiment of anguish and despair, unexpected mood swings, lack of appetite, decrease in libido and, finally, an unfounded increased interest in the NHL, PGA, ATP, PBA and, in the most serious cases, the WNBA.
p. For the past 40 years, the top scientists of prestigious labs and universities across the nation have been working around the clock in a valiant but futile effort to uncover the elusive cure for the dreadful infection that is SBW. Unfortunately, an elixir to the confounding disease has yet to be found. That is, until Monday Feb. 5, 2007, at approximately 11:36 p.m.
p. Already seriously weakened by the debilitating side effects of SBW, I decided to turn on SportsCenter in an attempt to ease my inner anguish. However, much to my chagrin, a continuous repetition of Super Bowl highlights only intensified my longing for the departed NFL season. Hopelessly dejected, I feebly reached for the remote in an effort to change the channel, but at that very moment, I heard something that grabbed my attention.
p. “With the Super Bowl of NASCAR just around the corner …,” SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett said. With the help of those simple words, I instantly realized the cure for the disease that has mercilessly plagued the United States since 1967.
p. The all-too-obvious antidote to SBW is the second-most watched sporting event in the United States of America: the Daytona 500. Every year, this seemingly pagan sporting event goes unnoticed by all civilized sports fans. However, little do these naive fans know that the seemingly crude sport of NASCAR is the vehicle that can navigate them through the painful month of February all the way into March Madness.
p. Although NASCAR is an undemanding solution to the woes of SBW, realize that watching the sport does not come without risk. Side effects of NASCAR can include, but are not limited to, excessive drunkenness, a disturbing affinity for the music of Toby Keith, decreased literacy and, finally, an unexplained urge to marry your sister.
p. While watching too much NASCAR can be hazardous to your general well being, watching only the Daytona 500, also known as the Super Bowl of NASCAR, is completely safe and a necessary element to the treatment of SBW. So, on Feb. 18, tune your television sets to FOX, and witness drivers Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon duke it out during the 49th annual Daytona 500.
p. Graham Williamson is a sports columnist for The Flat Hat.