The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local Sports

February 1, 2014

Are there people that don’t watch any of the big games?

Sunday, February 2, 2014 — For most sports fans, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the sports calendar, when people gather to eat food not approved on any healthy diet to watch the AFC and NFC champions battle for all the money and the glory that comes with winning the championship.

Admittedly, growing up with my parents was all about the NFL. My father was an original season ticket holder with Miami, and had the chance to go to several Super Bowls.

He travelled to Super Bowl VIII to Rice Stadium in Houston when the Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings in Texas at Rice Stadium 24-7. Incidentally, for all my fellow Dol-fans, this year’s game is exactly 40 years and 20 days from that game, meaning far too long.

My father also had tickets for Super Bowl X in Miami where 80,187 in the Orange Bowl and more than 80 million watching on television saw the Steelers  beat the Cowboys 21-17.

On the day, Lynn Swann’s unbelievable circus catch over Dallas’ Mark Washington became what legendary NFL Films voice John Facenda called “one of the greatest catches in football history.”

Beyond just the watching of the Super Bowl was the annual reairing every year of the NFL Films packages on the games, with Facenda and the music of Sam Spence lifting the highlights of a football game to an artistic level.

Anyone that watched those highlights every year knows which coach told his team to “keep matriculating that ball down the field, boys” or called for the now-famous “65 Toss Power Trap” that went for a touchdown.

Or the ones I refuse to watch: Super Bowl XI, XVII and XIX, for obvious reasons.

In 2006, after having never missed a Super Bowl game, I met someone that had never seen a Super Bowl game before, which to this day still amazes me.

Now, she was not really a big sports fan, but I can assure you that this beautiful woman in question can now be seen with yours truly at Pfeiffer basketball games, various baseball venues and countless other local destinations. And yes, she has not missed a Super Bowl with me since.

Initially, though, it was hard to convince her of why the Super Bowl was so important, especially when your teams are not playing in the game.

I pondered this question for a while, and while it is true that fans of 30 different NFL teams wish their team was in the game, missing a Super Bowl game means you might miss those iconic moments, both good and bad.

You might miss the artistry of the greats like Swann, the night the lights went out in New Orleans (and no, Beyoncé was using her own generator), the ill-fated pass attempt of Garo Yepremian which nearly cost Miami the perfect season in 1972.

Besides, the only other times that the majority of the world is watching the same thing, usually it has to do with some negative rather than positive, some world crisis, political speech, etc.

The world will be watching the Olympic games from Sochi, Russia, but I may not as much after watching HBO’s Real Sports report on the amount of money that Putin has sunk into the Games while others around the city live in abject poverty.

In the case of the Olympics, though, there is more of a sense of national pride than the interest in the Super Bowl.

Of course, one only has to pass buy a sports book in Las Vegas to understand why some people are so invested in the Super Bowl, something to the tune of a combined $100 million bet on the game.

I’m still not 100 percent sure if I know why Sunday’s Denver-Seattle game is so important to me because I do not have a dog in the fight or a financial reason to be interested in the outcome.

It’s not about the players, the cities, or the game; it’s about tradition, pop culture, the commercials, the chicken wings and the shared experience of the planet.

Enjoy the day, folks, as we celebrate our own love of sports, junk food and spectacle; we will see how good the halftime show with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers is as well.

Oh, and my predications are that Denver wins 35-17 and Peyton Manning wins the MVP with around 325 yards and four touchdowns.


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