Super Sunday: a national institution, a de facto holiday, a revered tradition, a manifestation of All That Is Wrong in America. Take your pick. Today is the day.
It's been nearly 20 years since I gave up on the NFL as anything other than a gaudy, over-hyped pageant designed to extract wealth from the hoi polloi. I have no emotion invested in the game, nor indeed in the sport of football. Quite a contrast from the days of my youth, when I held this day as a much-anticipated event; when nothing was so important as victory for my team. (And how ironic, when you consider that football was my father's passion and career!)
Back in the day, I held people who disregarded the event as misanthropic curmudgeons, bitter killjoys. The idea that the Super Bowl did not matter was downright blasphemous.
I remember one Superbowl Sunday, back in the 80s, driving to a party and noticing that a wedding was occurring at a church along the way. "Who were the heartless, inconsiderate people that chose today, of all days, to get married?" thought I. "How could they do that to their friends and loved ones?"
These days, I see it all differently. Now, the Superbowl is exclusively an opportunity to get together with friends from whom the tides of daily life have drawn me away, to eat good food, to laugh. Beyond that, it is nothing.
Don't get me wrong. I watch the game; I offer my pseudo-expert analysis as an armchair quarterback; I even enjoy the much-anticipated television advertisements. But I don't care who wins.
For me, the event became a ridiculous curio long ago. Sports analysts struggle to find new ways to say the same things every year. Advertisers spend millions of dollars trying to penetrate the collective psyche of a populace who is daily inundated with mind-numbing sales pitches. Fake passions run high.
Gwynne Dyer, the Canadian historian and journalist, observed that sporting events serve a useful sociological function in that they provide a release for natural human tendencies toward mass violence. He called such events "mock violence." Armies of fans meet at the event, or gather around televisions and radios all across the world, a battle ensues, and one group emerges victorious while the other is vanquished. But no one gets killed.
Well, if humans can use sporting events to replace actual war, then I say these events are worthy. Perhaps even essential.
Congratulations, New Orleans Saints fans!