Earlier this week, Americans gathered around their television sets, anxious to watch the 45th annual Super Bowl. Over 100 million viewers spent their Sunday evenings watching the game, the commercials and the half-time show, comprising about four hours of their time. These four hours are some of the most anticipated, expensive and coveted hours of television. I think it is safe to say there is no other day in the calendar year during which more Americans are seated on their couches, glued to the television. So, one has to ask, what exactly is it about this game that makes it such a cultural phenomenon?
As a born and bred New Orleans Saints fan, I can attest to the excitement of a Super Bowl that includes your beloved team. Following your team through the playoffs and seeing them so close to the ultimate football prize is addicting, even if entirely nerve-racking. The Saints’s victory at Super Bowl XLIV was so much more than a higher score at the end of the game. That game had the makings of a sappy, tear-jerking, feel-good sports movie a la “Hoosiers” or “Chariots of Fire.” Faced with the same question today, I am having a much harder time figuring out why exactly I spent the entirety of my Sunday evening glued to the television when I had countless other things to do.
For many, the Super Bowl is an occasion to indulge in those foods that are generally frowned upon the other 364 days of the year. In this way, the Super Bowl is a sort of Thanksgiving for football lovers. I admit to partaking in the spread of pizza, wings and chips and dip, assembled for the occasion. And of course, there is a definite allure to any sort of national event that provides four solid hours of procrastination potential. In fact, if you choose to forgo this particular procrastination option, you may actually be shunned and scolded by your peers, parents and professors alike. But one cannot attribute the popularity of the Super Bowl solely to the guilty pleasures it encourages. There must be something else, some secret ingredient to its success.
Another attraction for many Super Bowl fans is the entertainment it offers. Traditionally, the commercials are the highlight for many viewers who are not as keen on the actual football portion of the event. This year, however, the commercials lacked sparkle or laughs. During one commercial break, we actually muted the volume on the television, something that would have been unheard of in previous, more amusing advertising years. The half time shows are always popular with spectators, and the highlight of this year’s show was Usher’s appearance. And you can’t forget the dancers lit with tube lights and cube heads. Christina Aguilera also offered some comic relief, with her somewhat personalized rendition of the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner to start off the evening.
Despite all of the potential for a great entertainment and sporting event that has always been able to appeal to the masses, this year’s Super Bowl seemed to fall a little short. Although the game was undeniably competitive until the last minute, everything else that makes the Super Bowl so outstanding was missing. In the battle between cheese and steel, I sided with cheese (because it is delicious, and cheese hats are funny looking), and my spur of the moment choice paid off. Hopefully, next year, the Super Bowl really earns its name.
__Emily Walker is a Confusion Corner columnist. She hopes that next year the game will make those calories worth it.__