By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.
The alternate name of the football game this weekend comes from my wife. In many people’s viewpoint there is nothing so special about a bunch of 250 lb or more men running around trying to hit their opponent into submission and/or unconsciousness?
One might think that the significance of this game will determine the future of mankind! In fact, the game is more about advertising and marketing than an actual football game. One should admire the success with which the National Football League has built this game up into an event that should remind us of the ancient games in Rome. However, there are no chariots or gladiators. (Although many broadcasters of this game have referred to the players as “modern gladiators.”)
Let’s start with the build up to the game. This past Monday evening, they actually had a “players night” at which players from both teams were interviewed on a program on one of the major television networks. Worse than the actual interviews (more below) was the “shilling” of this event all day long on the same network.
“Be sure to tune in at 8:00 pm (east coast time) to hear Tom Brady and Matt Ryan expound on subjects all vital to the outcome of the game.” What I simply could not believe is they held this gathering in one of the football stadiums in Houston. Ten thousand fans actually showed up!
There they got to hear Brady and Ryan answer questions such as, “What do you do in your time off?” and, “What do you think will be the keys to the game?” The only question I did not hear was, “What is your favorite color?”
My favorite answers to these and other vapid questions comes from the classic movie "Bull Durham." In that film, Kevin Costner gives advice to an up and coming pitcher who will most likely make it into the major leagues. The pitcher, played by Tim Robbins, learns from a master.
Costner is the “master” at answering normal questions typically asked of any major league player. Answers that mean absolutely nothing and are a complete waste of time. Such as, “We’re going to play as best we can” and, “We gotta play them one day at a time.” Also “I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help the ball club.”
A good question is who would actually tune into such a completely and utterly stupid program? If you are interested in such drivel, instead of watching this, why not go out and watch your grass grow? It is probably just as informative.
Worse than these wastes of time are the never ending promotions for and during the game. It now costs about $5 million for a 30 second commercial. In fact, more good work goes into the commercials than the actual game.
The networks are already airing the “best of” commercials this week. I do find the commercials very entertaining. They are usually funny, extremely well written and acted, and often have a secondary point other than selling the actual product. (For example, one of this year’s ads promotes the idea of immigration – a hot point in the current political environment.)
I’m hoping that Lady Gaga does not turn the half time show into a major political speech. After all, clearly she knows more about politics than any of our current or former politicians (NOT!).
Here is the heart of the matter, at least as I see it. Why would you allow an event, a football game, to become the center of your life, even for a few days? My answer is that I don’t. Here are some thoughts by some media people on why the Super Bowl is so important.
Now for those of you who don’t know, my wife and I spent over 30 years living in the greater Boston area. So naturally we are Patriot fans. On the day of the game, we’ll probably watch it. But you know what, other than seeing who wins the game, you can actually watch the highlight reel of the game and in, perhaps, a minute or so you can see every score, interception and important play of the game. That from a four-hour extravaganza.
Sheesh! I think I’ll head out to my lawn and watch it grow.