It's about the Hype

by Chris Haffenreffer | 2/6/01 6:00am

By now I'm sure most everyone has become sick of the different stories surrounding the Super Bowl. The story and successes of Ray Lewis have become ingrained in all of our minds and pretty soon we just might forget that he may have killed two young men.

We've all been amazed by the dominance of the Ravens defense and have repeatedly asked the question of whether this defense is the best in history.

And we've all wondered whether the Super Bowl could be more boring. Each of these stories has been exhausted to the extent that nobody wants to hear another word about it. Well, it appears that the rest of the sports world is taking a short hiatus from interesting stories, so it's back to the Super Bowl we go.

However, I really don't care about Ray Lewis or the Ravens defense any more, so it's necessary that I concentrate on an aspect of the Super Bowl that often goes unnoticed -- the fact that it never lives up to its billing and is the worst professional sports championship.

As we all know, the Super Bowl is probably hyped more than any other sporting event, and clearly garners one of the largest market shares of any TV program throughout the year. However, the reasons for the popularity of the Super Bowl have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the game. Clearly, there are years when we witness a fantastic game, or a fantastic conclusion to the game, yet for the most part the Super Bowl tends to be a drawn out three and a half hours of boredom.

Regardless, we love it. But it's not the game we love, but the idea of a night of entertainment at its best. We throw a party, drink some beers, eat pizza, gamble, see some of the best commercials of the year and watch Britney Spears shake around on stage. And the Super Bowl allows this to happen.

How could anyone not want to tune in for an event with that kind of capacity? It is this kind of entertainment that makes the Super Bowl what it is, and without that factor, the game would be simply another excuse for the suits of America to unite together in a massive corporate gathering.

Unlike the World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs or NBA Championship, the Super Bowl is in a neutral location where there is very little fervor among the crowd. The crowd is a collection of upper class executives who lack the ability to have fun, and attend the game just so they can claim to have been a part of the idea of the Super Bowl.

It's difficult to compare the Super Bowl to some of the other championships, because they are so completely different, but just imagine first what it would be like to attend the seventh game of the World Series in Yankee Stadium amidst a mass of navy blue. The buzz of excitement rushes through the air for three hours, and you are often unable to hear yourself think. Now imagine being in the crowd at the Super Bowl with an array of colors around you, and all you can think about is what Britney is going to wear during the halftime show.

As obvious as it is, the reason why the Super Bowl is so different from the rest of the Championships is that it is only one game, one evening to determine who will be crowned World Champion. This accounts for the fact that it must be held on neutral ground. Yet it also means that ticket prices will skyrocket and the only people who will be able to afford to attend the game will be upper-class types.

On the other hand, this kind of brevity offers the American public the luxury of knowing when a champion will be crowned. Thus, we tune in to witness what we know will be the conclusion of a season. Throughout a seven game series, we only know for sure that there will be a champion when the series goes the distance to seven games.

There are clearly some inadequacies with the game that is the Super Bowl, yet it is necessary that we admit that the appeal of the Super Bowl is not the same as that of the World Series or Stanley Cup playoffs. We are not drawn to the championship lust of a football team the way we are in baseball, hockey or basketball. The entertainment and atmosphere of Super Sunday is what draws everyone to their television sets, and the football game simply becomes a faade behind which the entertainment industry hides. Sound familiar, Vince McMahon?