Americans and sporting events have become an ingrained ritualistic way to commune within our society. The difference between football and other sports is that football is a military metaphor. The Generals or Coaches run the show; everyone dresses in their battle uniform, and they fight each other to “take” the most territory. When enough territory has been “taken”, the one who crosses the magic territorial line with the inflated pigskin performs a ritualistic dance, much like a strutting cock, to celebrate the achievement while also emasculating their competition.
The Super Bowl has become one of the most successful secular holidays since Thanksgiving. It brings with it all the excitement, hype, and rivalry of any good old fashioned tribal competition. With the Super Bowl, it simply isn’t enough to show up and watch. At our house, there are weeks of planning.
Whose house are we watching the game at? Who is buying what food and bringing it? The pre and post-game parties; are we having two parties or just one this year?Then there is the food and drink consisting of beer and junk food as the main staples. Everyone arrives before the pre-game wearing their ritualistic “lucky shirt” that is needed to bring luck to the team they are rooting for. All the teens have their phones out texting their friends, their hair coiffed perfectly and tons of cologne to impress the cousins and neighbors that have joined the group. Following the traditional roles, the women spend their time putting out the snacks and cooking the food and gossiping about the latest family fopaw.The men open beer, the official masculine drink, and the teens open Pepsi’s, this year’s official sponsor. With drink in hand, they spend their time recounting great Super Bowls of the past reliving them play by play and discussing MVP’s, what surgeries they’ve had and what they are doing today in life and how they wish they could be them. Opinions and arguments abound and I listen to it all with great amazement.
If my children would put as much time into their homework as sports stats, I would have three Valedictorians someday.We anxiously await the announcement for the National Anthem. When it begins, we all stand and place our hands over our hearts; the traditional way of honoring those who have served.
Everyone in the stadium does the same and for exactly 52 seconds today, this is the only time our house will be quiet. Then the coin toss, we hold our breath for several agonizing seconds to find out who will start the kick-off. The game has started. No one can sit still. Technology has brought this game right into our living room and made us active participants.Camera action above the players and play by play re-enactments during team timeouts along with commentator information and player stats have made us experts on this game. Sometimes on the edge of our chairs, sometimes in frustration we shout at the TV, hoping the player will hear us and take our advice.
Just ask any one of us. Halftime is time to eat in our house. The women have timed it just right. All the food is out and ready. Paper plates and cold drinks await the spectators. It is important that eating is like an efficient assembly line.
Everyone has to get a plate of food and be back in the living room and ready for the halftime extravaganza. Beyonce is the main event and she pulls it off. In keeping with Super Bowl tradition, she is scantily dressed in what looks like nothing more than lingerie.
A surprise was the introduction of Destiny’s Child, a former band Beyonce toured with. They sang through a number of hits together and Beyonce finished off the performance with Halo. All of this was accompanied by fire, smoke and ice and Beyonce appearing on a moving platform.It’s interesting to me that the men retire to their locker rooms and ready themselves for the last half of battle, while the women are called out to entertain everyone, much like in my own home with the women preparing the food for the men to grab and retire back to their arm chairs. Then, the power outage happens in the third quarter. Players and fans alike wait for at least 30 minutes. We spend our time discussing Beyonce and her lip sync of the National Anthem at the Presidential Inauguration and how it was in bad taste.
It quickly became surreal.Players that were fighting during the game start to visit on the field. The cheerleaders are cheering in the partial darkness. The Super Bowl is a perfect example of gender roles, the men do the fighting and the women do the cheering. The press boxes, and rich people in their box seats, lose internet and power. All of a sudden we have better seats than they do! We all laugh at that one. Players start to stretch and run the field to stay loose. Technology and commercials have added an element to this game you don’t ever see when you are at the field watching the game.
They no longer are used as distractions between plays, they have become part of the entertainment of this sport itself. Not to be outdone, advertisers pay four-million for a 30-second spot. The best ads earn a permanent place with fans and in history and are talked about and viewed on YouTube for years to come. This year’s commercial that had the most votes was Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” featuring the making of a Budweiser Clydesdale and the loyalty of the Clydesdale running after his master years later. The most disturbing commercial was the GoDaddy commercial with Bar Refaeli kissing the nerd.
It elicited quite the strong negative reaction from everyone around me. One of the teens caught a tweet that this version was the scaled back approved version; the banned version apparently had a lot more close up tongue action. Just so that we don’t miss any good commercials or there is another emergency, we have DVR’d the whole Super Bowl, including pre and post-game, just in case something happens. We also can rewatch the commercials and analyze them later as the post-game winds down. The kids are the most plugged in to this technology process.They are commenting on Facebook posts and tweeting and retweeting stuff they are seeing in online discussions by their friends. The greatest excitement online is during the power outage.
Is it a conspiracy? Was it an accident? Why weren’t they prepared? Was it Beyonce’s fault? She had to have used a lot of power was the consensus. Regardless, the day ends with yay’s and boo’s on both sides depending on who was rooting for who. The spectacle leaves us with lots to talk about this coming year in football and who will be in the next Super Bowl. We only have a year to wait to do it all over again.