Not-so-Super Bowl still a good event
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
I'm old enough to have technically seen XXIII, I mean 23, of the 40 Super Bowls, but I really only remember a few, starting with Super Bowl XXXI, Green Bay's win over New England. I've seen Super Bowls where I've had a vested interest in one particular team to win (Super Bowl XXXIII and the Atlanta Falcons) and Super Bowls where I wanted neither team to win (Super Bowl XXXV when the Baltimore Ravens faced the New York Giants.
Sunday's game certainly won't stand out in my mind five years from now, even though I was happy to see fellow Notre Dame alum Jerome Bettis get his ring, but even a bad Super Bowl is still better than most sporting events you see on TV.
Take the World Series, for example. Unless my Atlanta Braves are in the Fall Classic, I simply just don't have that much interest. I might watch a few innings of each game, and maybe most of the deciding game, but because of MLB's exceedingly-long regular season by the time the playoffs rolls around I'm usually bored of watching steroid-laden men hitting a little white ball.
March Madness is fun, but for every Bucknell-over-Kansas there's a 40-point Duke-over-Lamar type of early-round romp. Plus, there really hasn't been any real Cinderella story since Arizona won it all as a No. 4 seed back in 1997. Your Bucknells and your Coppin States will cause some noise early, but by the time it's narrowed down to the finals you'll normally see your usual suspects of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds battling it out in the Final Four.
The NBA and NHL playoffs both suffer from their length (I mean, what's up with awarding the Stanley Cup in June? Shouldn't the ice have melted by then?) although the NBA playoffs also suffer simply because they feature NBA teams. The World Cup is a great international tournament, but unless the U.S. is doing well I won't really bother.
In all of televised sports, there simply isn't an event that parallels in popularity and entertainment value to the Super Bowl. Don't like sports? Watch it for the commercials; go to a party and spend time with friends; watch the Rolling Stones make fools of themselves. The Super Bowl is an American event that is accessible to everyone, football fans and non-fans alike.
It's a good thing that the game is dwarfed simply by the hoopla that is Super Bowl Sunday, because this year's game was probably one of the least exciting in recent memory. Other than Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El's perfect gadget pass to Hines Ward, Super Bowl Extra Large will probably be remembered more for questionable officiating, dropped passes and a national anthem that possibly made even Aaron Neville's parents cringe.
Even the commercials seemed a little stale this year. Most of the beer commercials elicited at least a chuckle – my favorites were the magic fridge and the colt who thought he was a Budweiser Clydesdale – but a few others were severe misses. Anthropomorphic hamburger toppings (Burger King's Whoperrettes) and Diet Pepsi cans in a recording studio and movie lot do not a good commercial make. And please, can somebody let advertising execs know that monkeys in human outfits stopped being funny a decade ago?
Overall, the Super Bowl experience this year was a lot like its host city. Kind of bland, cold and relying on ideas that were old 20 years ago.
I can't wait for Super Bowl XLI.