Okay, you’re hearing from all the experts this week, now let me offer an alternative opinion on all the hype and hoopla that is Super Bowl week and tell you what it’s really all about.
Because it has nothing to do with the game that (eventually) kicks off at the end of the week. No, this is purely and simply a seven-day extravaganza into all things American — a bigger, brighter, funnier event than anything else in the sporting cosmos. In fact, whether the Saints even play the Colts on Sunday night — after the longest pregame ceremonies since Greece launched its assault on Troy — is largely irrelevant.
By then, we will have been feted by a nonstop assault on the senses that takes in everything from the Playboy Super Bowl Party to the Dog Bowl 2010 Touchdown Treats Championship. It is a litany of the only-barely-sane and the clearly-utterly-absurd that has zero to do with sport but everything to do with hype and hoopla that only our transatlantic cousins know how to do well.
Try telling anyone in Britain that their FA Cup Final -– the closest English soccer comes to an annual one-game championship -– needs to be surrounded by parties, charity appeals, celebrity appearances, stadium tours, and nonstop press conferences (lots of press conferences), and you’re likely to get a response that goes from “Huh?” to “Are you having a laugh, pal?”
It is such cultural anathema that you might as well ask the average Brit if they want mayonnaise with their fish and chips. They’d rather chew their own arms off (“It’s vinegar, mate, and don’t you be trying none of that foreign stuff, neither.”). That’s why I would happily do this for nothing every year, just to get a sample of the sheer, outlandish mayhem. Even the media go stone-cold bonkers for the duration. It is magnificent.
My first experience of this phenomenon was back in 1994 in Atlanta, and it took me all of six nano-seconds to realize I had wandered into a journalistic madhouse, a frenzy of player interviews, press releases, media handouts, and press conferences (lots of press conferences).
And then there is Media Day, an event that has become almost as much of a cause célèbre as the game itself. It is not so much a sports-writing opportunity as a journalistic freak show, an exercise in utter, perplexing futility, when hundreds of journos all try to ask the same question of a handful of players all at once; circus side shows develop with outlandishly costumed TV characters; and the media end up interviewing other parts of the media while various behemoths in football uniforms look on in bewilderment.
So yes, it’s something I look forward to every year. No, it’s like nothing else on earth. And maybe, just maybe, a significant sporting event will emerge from this massive montage of offbeat human endeavor. Oh, and did I mention there are a lot of press conferences?
– Simon Veness
(U.S.-based British writer Simon Veness has infiltrated the ranks of NFL.com for Super Bowl week with his transatlantic take on events.)