|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Blackout leads to tough realizations

    Enjoy the Super Bowl until its lights go out forever
  • So there I sat, weighed down by bottles of Ninkasi IPA, pizza, Fritos and hot-dog casserole congealing in my stomach, watching football players standing around in the darkness of the Superdome.
    • email print
  • So there I sat, weighed down by bottles of Ninkasi IPA, pizza, Fritos and hot-dog casserole congealing in my stomach, watching football players standing around in the darkness of the Superdome.
    "Wow," I thought. "This is the most bizarre sporting event I've ever witnessed. Is this the beginning of the end?"
    When the Superdome went dark at the beginning of the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, I thought the end had come. Civilization as we knew it had reached the meltdown phase predicted by the armed survivalists living outside Williams (at whom I always laughed).
    If this country can't host the Super Bowl without a hitch, what chance do we have of regaining full employment or dealing with the deficit?
    The reality that society was converting to "Road Warrior" status was not enough to spur me to action, however. I had eaten far too much cheese and starch in a short period of time. When the hockey-masked barbarians showed up at the door, there would be little I could do but throw an empty beer bottle at them before they descended on me.
    I watched The Game buried in a large sectional couch at my friends' home in west Medford.
    My friend Noah, a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan, spent the evening suffering that special kind of torture that befalls you when your favorite team loses the Super Bowl.
    I think Noah had been drinking before I showed up, but he began in earnest when the Baltimore Ravens sprinted out to a big lead minutes into the game.
    Noah, decked out in a 49ers hoodie, T-shirt and pajama pants, burrowed farther into his chair as the Ravens continued their attack.
    His trips to the beer keg became more frequent as his "friends" at the party began their merciless heckling once it became clear The Game was not going the 49ers' way.
    And then, following an epic halftime starring Beyonce, the lights went out, and for nearly an hour, America was left to consider the absurdity of the Super Bowl — at least I was left to ponder the situation. I'm pretty sure the blackout gave most people extra time to drink beer.
    The group that benefitted the most from the blackout had to be bar owners, who got an added hour of beer slinging. The Super Bowl is a notorious amateur drinking holiday. Many one-day-wonder alcoholics pack into bars, get their load on and then stumble out the doors after the final whistle.
    Anyway, during the downtime three things occurred to me concerning the Super Bowl.
    The first: Rock bands should never, ever again be tabbed for the halftime show. It just doesn't work. I don't care if it's the Rolling Stones, U2 or Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, halftime dynamics at the Super Bowl is a rock 'n' roll buzzkill.
    The sound is often horrible, even though most of the bands pantomime to funneled in sound. This presents its own problems. It's blatantly obvious when guys like Keith Richards are forced to pretend to play guitar. You know what it looks like? An old man faking playing a guitar. It's bad TV.
    Hip-hop was made for halftime. You don't have to worry about guitar melding with bass and drums in an open-air stadium. All you need to do is make sure the beats are loud enough to reach the top rows. And even though Beyonce, who was great, by the way, was most likely lip-synching, her choreography and stage presence carried the show.
    Second realization: The Super Bowl, and football itself, is now a crapshoot, and it's all the better for it. I grew up in an era when one or two teams each year were good enough to win the whole thing. You had dynasties such as the Joe Montana 49ers, the '90s Dallas Cowboys and the Joe Gibbs Washington Redskins, who were invincible in The Game. The only thing you could hope for was the score was not 35-6 at halftime, even though it often was.
    Not anymore. No one knows who the hell is going to win The Game these days. You could argue this is because the play has become sloppy and defense is no longer allowed for fear of ruining players' brains. It doesn't matter. Chances are your team isn't playing anyway, so we might as well have a compelling contest to make it all tolerable.
    Final realization: One of these years, and sooner than we think, the first weekend in February will signify nothing. As a line of former players whose brains no longer work because of the multiple concussions they suffered on the gridiron make their way through court, the NFL will face a financial reckoning.
    Can a sport that depends on 300-pound supermen flying into each other like missiles change its dynamics enough to make it both safe and entertaining? We will see soon enough.
    What will America be like without the Super Bowl? I'm not sure. All I know is that if I ever have a son, I won't be surprised if I spend a lot of time at school soccer matches played on converted football fields.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction

      calendar