I stayed up late last night to watch the Superbowl. I like American Football, and once you get over the inordinate number of breaks in play it’s a fine sport. I suggest that you either diligently us your PVR in live pause mode, or do as I did last night and decide that it was the perfect time to install Windows 7 on my netbook (it went fine on my Samsung N110 thanks for asking).
But there are a few other differences. The actual game seems to be very low down the order of importance surrounding the whole thing. It’s all about the specially made ads (somewhat disappointing by all accounts this year, although the Dave/Oprah/Jay promo was funny), or the half-time show (The Who playing a poor medley of CSI theme tunes. I think I’ll stick to CDs thanks).
One thing I can never get over is how unexcited the commentators seem to be. I know they’re professionals and they have to bring that special gravitas to the event, but a bit more life in their voices wouldn’t go amiss. Sometimes Motty might be a little over the top, and Sky will make a deathly-dull game sound more exciting than everyone watching knows it is, but at least they try to convey some of the excitement. Even the sound mix seems to minimise the crowd noise. Of course the fans don’t tend to songs, and it being the Superbowl, actual honest to goodness fans are few and far between since the world and their mum has bought tickets. And they’re not cheap.
But the real difference comes at the end. For a country who presents sport with enormous professionalism, the scenes at the end of a regular season game are frankly chaotic. This is only increased in the Superbowl where there are already several hundred player, coaches, officials, journalists, cameramen, photographers and others prowling the touchlines.
At the final whistle all hell lets loose. Everyone brings their families on too.
Yet it’s at the presentation that things really change. With the FA Cup or the Champions’ League, journalists are kept in roped areas. A stand might be built, or the steps are ascended at Wembley. And then the players go up to collect the trophy. You know – the guys who’ve been running around and entertaining us for the last couple of hours, plus all those weeks and months leading up to the final. The team Captain receives the trophy and raises it aloft. Then the rest of the players will get a go, and among them, the manager will bashfully accept it too.
At the Superbowl, a small podium is built in the middle of the pitch. The trophy is brought out to the middle of the pitch and players try to touch it as it goes by. Just as well, as for the time being, this is the closest most of them will get to it.
Then the trophy is presented… to the team’s owner. Yes the “franchisee” is the person who accepts it. Yes – he pays the bills, and without him or her, there’d be no team, but it wasn’t him (let’s face it, it is a “him”) running around out there. Next the head coach of the team – the manager figure – gets his turn. Finally, the MVP (Most Valuable Player) gets a turn. And that’s it.
And all around, everyone’s wearing slightly tacky T-shirts or baseball caps proclaiming the winners (another box, should the other team have won, is quietly boxed up and recycled or sent to Africa for charity), while the local newspaper distributes copies proclaiming the winners.
As I say. I like American Football, and enjoy the spectacle and the occasion. Perhaps the charm of it is the lack professionalism at the end. The memorable images tend to be grabbed from the midst of a scrum of cameramen with the camera pointing upwards. But it could be better done.