Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why I'm Rooting For Super Snowpocalypse

Let It Suck, Let It Suck, Let It Suck
I'm going to go through this once, because I'm sure that we're going to have seven days of buildup on something that isn't going to matter very much: the fact that the Super Bowl is going to be played outdoors in northern New Jersey in February. At night. Which means that, if recent weather is any indication, it will be played in the 20s, with wind chills that are lower, and isn't that, well, whatever.

First off, let's toss aside any idea that this will have very much impact on the actual game. Both teams are going to play in it, after all, and both teams are not hothouse flowers; the weather in Denver and Seattle can not be described as ideal, and they don't play in domes. The better team will, short of massive turnover luck or officiating scandal (cue Seattle Fan's paranoia!), win the game. So let's toss that out of the picture.

Next, let's pass aside the idea that anyone should feel very sorry for the "fans" in the stands. The crowd at a Super Bowl is not, with very strong and limited exceptions, indicative of actual fans; they are corporate overlords and wildly privileged people, and the children of wildly privileged people, who are going to the game for the experience of being able to say they went. That's why the crowds aren't terribly loud; these are not people who are going to mark out for a team, because many of them aren't even there for either team. On some level, if the game is interrupted by locusts, blood rain or frog shower, I will give it a big old fist pump and have my faith in a God that loves us restored.

But even more than delighting in the misery of people who truly and dearly deserve misery (and no, I'm not counting you, Bronco and Seahawk Fans, among those; you are just collateral damage), there's this. The only reason why this game is in New Jersey is a payback for a new stadium -- a stadium that was in no way necessary, and even by the sad standards of stadium projects, this one was particularly egregious. Seeing this as a precedent keeps us in the This Has To Stop era of Professional Sports Welfare, and we would all be served well, as a nation and species, if new stadium construction were made illegal for the next 20 years.

Now all of that could be swept aside for just one, final, point. I've never been to a Super Bowl, and in all likelihood, I will never go to a Super Bowl. The idea of blowing a mortgage payment or three, or a semester of college for one of my kids, on four hours of spectator sport, is an unconscionable decision. There is, of course, one exception... and that's if my team is there, and I can take the Shooter Mom with me. Because, well, she deserves it. She's my mom.

If and when I'm in the stands for the biggest game ever, with her, I don't want to be in life-threatening weather that makes us both miserable, and makes her wish she was at home and in warmth. That's just, well, pointless. And I can't be the only person who feels this way.

So, this Sunday? Let's agree to never make this mistake again. Let's mock the living hell out of Roger Goodell for making the venue as big of a story as the teams that actually made the game. Let's avoid, and even ignore, everything that isn't Game, so that the economic impact of the game is a sad echo of what the league thinks it will be.

If the NFL really wants to make sure it gets new stadiums for its annual wankfest, here's a simple suggestion... extend the opportunity outside of its current markets. Let Las Vegas make a yard for the game, or have it in Orlando in a festival of Disney/ESPN excess. Put it on a cruise ship and put FOOTBALL ACCOMPLISHED on a banner, or give Hawaii reparations for decades of Pro Bowl abuse. Hell, put the game in Mexico City or Australia and put your money where your mouth is for international expansion.
Because the Super Bowl isn't just another game. It's a game that everyone has agreed to watch and care about, with a borderline lifetime contract. It's also a dream destination and experience for every fan base.

And, well, 30 out of 32 NFL fan bases do not dream of going to that game in northern New Jersey in February. (Probably 32, honestly. You have to think Giant or Jet Fan is smart enough to want to get the hell out of town in February, too...)

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