Super-Bowl-Sunday might as well be recognized as a national holiday not because it merits such acclaim but because calendars of activities endemic to everything from churches to bars to restaurants to the simple hearth-and-home are cleared for it. It's no longer just a football game in which millionaires attempt to beat the stuffing out of each other for the fans' delight; rather, it's an event that the networks are already covering, with the bloodletting still two days away.
Last year, 144.4 million folks were glued to their TVs for the big gridiron-grinding, with probably most of the gobs of mobs, slobs, snobs, and nabobs tuning into the other entertainment venues accompanying the massive masochisms of mob-violence manipulated by muddlers called coaches, such as those of the over-the-hill TV-sports-gang making profound prognostications and talking-heads tossing their usual tedium and network gurus philosophizing the psyches of the corner linebackers. Egad!
Naw…this is not a slam at the sport, just with the obsession with it, so pronounced that some folks will pay $700 for a ticket, while others will allow themselves to be hit-up for thousands from the scalpers. It's just a sort of reminder of how things have changed in this country in the last half-century or so. Okay…the Blue Laws were accounted as un-Constitutional decades ago, but they furnished a perception of God that is sorely lacking today. Even without the laws, many retail businesses would have shut down on Sunday…some still do – the scriptural day of rest – as the people, whether believers or not, honored God, or at least honored those who honored God.
The approach today is not even subtly hedonistic. Whereas sports were not even indulged on Sunday in other days, the current halftime shows often furnish a coarseness hard to imagine in public on a Sunday evening…or any evening. The scantily-clad "cheerleaders" furnish the cheesecake, though even they lose out to the endless parade of commercials. A few years back, the titillating breast-bearing of Janet Jackson was the stuff of headlines.
In 2006, it was Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. Jagger, a 62-year-old juvenile, had the appearance of having been hit by an 18-wheeler on his way to the activity. He and his two guitarists were dressed in black (though Jagger sported a white shirt) and they cavorted around and atop some sort of stage or runway that surrounded a bunch of what seemed to be mostly girls, with perhaps some older women (baby-boomer groupies?) mixed in. All three on the stage looked like warmed-over death, with their contortions and facial expressions roughly the male equivalent, one supposes, of the three witches in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Jagger doesn’t actually sing. He was messing with words, but he actually didn’t speak, either, but that didn’t matter. He is a grunter. Bobbing up and down on spindly toothpick-like legs, he simply grunted and went through gyrations that were probably supposed to be sensually exciting, but actually made one wonder if he just needed desperately to go to the bathroom. There were times when it seemed he would throw his crotch out of place, much like the crotch-hopping/duck-walking histrionics rendered by celebrating (hey…look at me) linebackers/tackles 15 yards past the play toward the opposite goal just after they’ve given the opposing quarterback a concussion.
One wonders if the public is becoming a bit jaded with the whole thing. As a percentage of viewers, the TV gang of 1982 (49.1%) was much larger than that of last year (42.6%). It may be that part of the reason has to do with the gross lack of sportsmanship, not to mention the extra timeouts for commercials, making the game into a seemingly never-ending business-ripoff more than a contest between highly skilled athletes. The trash-talking, taunting, and the hamming of the participants add to the coarseness and remind of a time when sport was supposed to be gentlemanly as well as rough.
The plethora of rules (penalties) having to do with protecting the players from themselves (grab his face-mask to bring that sucker down, never mind the broken neck) gives rise to the baseness of paying grown men millions of dollars to play a game, after the NFL's minor-league colleges/universities have paid them other millions to get ready for the big-time…Super-Bowl-Sunday! Only in the good ol' U S of A. It's here to stay, but the shame connected to it is too much. One longs for the day when the game will just be played for the championship…back to the Lombardi era…and all the other silliness, like the Jagger Jungle, will go the way of all nonsense.
And so it goes.