The Super Bowl – it’s a night of pyrotechnics, elaborate concerts, and jets flying at supersonic speeds over mass stadiums packed to the brim of thousands of eager, frenzied fans. A night of celebrities prostituting themselves for carbonated drinks, potato chips, and erectile dysfunction. It’s a night of fantasy where trucks run on post-apocalypse style deserted streets and highways, where girls fluster and swoon at the thought of Bud Lite, and where babies literally talk about stock trading (which probably partially explains the recent economic crash). A night that celebrates American patriotism to such a red, white, and blue-colored zenith that is not overdone by anything except perhaps Independence Day (and mostly because of Jeff Goldblum). Oh, and there’s also a football game.
It may be a night of excess but, thankfully, over the last decade, the games themselves have shined as some of the most energetic, edge-of-your-seat contests in the competition’s illustrious history. While the games have gotten more competitive and memorable, the commercials have devolved from the wonder of a boy catching Mean Joe Greene’s jersey to dead kids wishing they had Nationwide auto insurance. But with the fiftieth Super Bowl upon us, if the trade off to lagging commercials is an impressive, competitive game, then so be it because apart from the branding, the hot or cold halftime shows, and the over-patriotic escapades that would make Uncle Sam blush, the Super Bowl has always been about one thing – the game.
Yet, there is truth that it is an event that has evolved beyond the concept of the game, perhaps beyond the national pastime itself. Maybe it is a culmination of over-drawn patriotism, consumerism, and many other “isms,” but when it comes down to it, the Super Bowl is one of the last, if not the last at this point, programs that we as a nation rally together and enjoy live and in-the-moment. It is the mainstay television phenomenon that draws us together as a community as the nation cheers or boos in unison at every interception, touchdown, or wardrobe malfunction. In an age of DVR and streaming video, we have lost much of this joy. While many still stay up to watch a series finale or the Oscars live, water cooler discussions still proceed in hushed tones to avoid the dark implications of spoiling anything to those who recorded it, which is funny because in the day of the VHS, if you taped a show and someone spoiled it because you hadn’t watched it yet, it was considered your own fault. In today’s age of “anytime” television, the opposite seems to be true, but I digress. For the Super Bowl, there are no spoilers. You watch it live or you miss out. The participation trophy here is the energy of sports history unfolding and a living room table full of customary snacks, wings, and potent potables…which may be flipped over angrily by a psychopathic friend if their team should lose.
So this Sunday, gather around your television with your friends, buckets of junk food, and jerseys and enjoy Super Bowl 50 in the moment. Whether your team wins or loses, the halftime spectacle fails to impress, or you gauge out your eyes after watching a naked Seth Rogen get lathered up by Amy Schumer (for Bud Lite?), it is a night that you share in unity with the rest of the nation. If only the same can be said about politics.