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Bartosh

Another bowl — isn’t that Super?

  And now, let us prepare once again for the biggest winter holiday of them all.
  Christmas and New Year’s get the lion’s share of publicity, of course, but maybe that’s because they had such a head start. While 1967 seems like a long journey into yesterday for some folks, it was still recent enough in history to where there isn’t a BC or AD attached to the date.
  At the time of its origination, the newcomer wasn’t considered that big a deal. In the 47 years since, however, it has gained worldwide renown. And unlike the other two seasonal holidays, it brings together people of very disparate backgrounds — Jews, Christians and atheists all partake of it with equal fervor, as do both consumers of alcohol and teetotalers.
  Yes, I think it’s safe to say that the Super Bowl is, at least in an unofficial sense, as celebrated a holiday as any other on the calendar.

  In one way, it could be called “Thanksgiving Turnabout.” Whereas that famous November holiday is built around food, with a touch of football — and, for those of a more ambitious nature, sometimes a game of touch football — thrown in, the Super Bowl centers on football and is complemented by various snacks and beverages.
  What separates Super Bowl Sunday from other special days, too, is the sheer unpredictability of it.
  Imagine Christmas without weeks and weeks of Yuletide-themed music surrounding it, Thanksgiving without a post-meal snooze or Easter minus those tiny chocolate eggs that look like bunny droppings. The truth is, you can’t.
  But a Super Bowl without the New England Patriots? Hey, it’s happening this year. From one season to the next, we never know who will be the last two teams standing — only four current NFL franchises have failed to ever qualify for the Big Game.
  So given all the Super Bowl supposedly has to offer, wouldn’t it seem a bit crazy to suggest engaging in an alternative activity on game day? Probably, but I’m going to do it anyway.
  I have nothing against the game itself, you understand, except that it now tends to be an afterthought. For a true football fan, the game should always be the thing.
  But just as experienced revelers usually classify New Year’s Eve as “Amateur Night,” so, too, do longtime gridiron followers view the Super Bowl in a similar light. People who otherwise ignore the sport jump on the bandwagon because it’s the trendy thing to do at this time of year, but they don’t actually know anything about the game’s participants or its history.
  And the Johnny and Jenny Come Latelys always include representatives from all corners of the media world. Suddenly, football becomes appealing to the editors at Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fare and Tiger Beat, and the producers of “Access Hollywood” and “Entertainment Tonight.”
  But none of them really cares to know about strategy or positional breakdowns, unless the latter term actually refers to a specific player’s emotional state, especially if it was caused by a lost love. Tear-jerking moments work best for them, as opposed to members of the regular sports-following media horde, who prefer to do some tearing down of the jerks they encounter.
  Let’s not forget, either, what draws a ridiculously high amount of interest each year among those who are not standard football worshipers: the TV ads and halftime entertainment that, sadly, are more closely scrutinized now than the event that creates the venue for them.
  I know the Super Bowl will never return to those bygone days when six hours of pregame and postgame analysis wasn’t another part of the whole overblown package, but that’s why I’m suggesting to real football fans to do something else on game day this year. Of course, understanding their attachment to the sport, it’s probably wise to not move away from football entirely.
  But what’s wrong with tossing a football around with your kids or some friends? Chances are, your own game will be more competitive than most of the previous Super Bowls have been.
  You can also fire up the DVD player and watch some great games of the past. Sure, you’ll already know the outcome, but the older we get, the less we need the stress created by uncertainty. And, though it might be unpopular to say in some circles, I like watching sports with no commercial interruptions, even when those commercials cost $3 million for 30 seconds of airtime.
  For those who desire something more closely aligned to today’s NFL, consider doing some pants shopping for Jim Harbaugh. According to a couple recent Internet stories, the San Francisco 49ers coach caught flak from his wife for wearing the same khakis each week during his team’s run to the NFC Championship Game, which doesn’t matter now but would have in a big way had the Niners beaten Seattle.
  If nothing else, the NFL is all about smart fashion sense on the sidelines. Just ask Bill Belichick.
  Speaking of the Seahawks, tweeting defensive back Richard Sherman and trying to goad him into unleashing another inopportune tirade could also pass the time nicely on Sunday. Another possibility is weighing in on the public debate that continues to rage between the PC crowd, which includes our country’s plenty-of-better-things-to-do politicians, and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder regarding his franchise’s nickname.
  If none of that seems appealing, then by all means seek out an all-day classic-TV marathon. Stations run them knowing the reruns will get killed in the ratings, but that doesn’t matter because little money is at stake.
  The same can’t be said, of course, for the Super Bowl, which is why much of the discontent originated in the first place. For one day, football is the world’s biggest cash cow, and those waving huge fistfuls of money get the final say.
  That already happens every other day of the year in real life, so excuse me if I’m eager for some sort of escape. Thank goodness, Mayberry remains an option.