I’m watching Fox’s Superbowl XLII 2008 pre-show game, and find myself shaking my head in bewilderment. A red carpet? Ryan Seacrest conducting celebrity interviews? A clapper shown at the beginning of each vignette that highlights members of the starting line-up for the two teams? A report on the hottest Superbowl parties thrown by Diddy, Maxim and Victoria’s Secret? Showing fan videos from myspace.tv? Debuting Paula Abdul’s new music video?
This is more like E! than any superbowl I remember. Growing up with a father who used to revere Superbowl Sunday as almost sacred, my memories of this game include Dad trying to hustle us all into the car as soon as church ended while my Mom gave him “don’t rush me” glances; bringing hot bowls of chili into the family room to eat while watching the pre-game show, which seemed excruciatingly long and boring, full of stats and figures that may as well as have been ancient sanskrit, and clip after clip of apparently every past superbowl ever played in history. My Dad was mesmerized. I was bored to tears.
Once the actual game started, you couldn’t get my Dad’s attention, even if you yelled “FIRE!”. Accidentally walking in front of the TV was a huge no-no. He did remember, however, to always call me just before commercials, so I could return to the family room for what I always thought was the best part of the superbowl. The Budweiser Clydesdales were always my favorite.
Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve noticed my Dad became less interested in pro football and more interested in college football. He says he pro football isn’t enjoyable anymore, that it’s not about the sport of the game. He says college football is still mostly about playing the game, the athleticism, the team. That’s what he enjoys most.
I found that perplexing. I mean, football is football. Isn’t it? What does it matter whether it’s pro or college? Six one way, half a dozen the other: a field, a ball..er, correction, a pigskin, big guys in tight pants, John Madden’s annoying shouting and finger painting routes in yellow scribble during instant replays. It seemed to me like Dad was just splitting hairs.
Until today. As I sit here watching Ryan Seacrest interview Nick Lachey on the Superbowl red carpet, I think I finally begin to understand Dad. The sport seems to now take a distant backseat to the entertainment. It’s no longer about the green field at the 50-yard line. It’s about the red carpet. Photo ops. Partying with the stars. It’s not sport. It’s entertainment.
I just called my Dad to ask him what he thought of this year’s pre-game show. After several rings, my parent’s answering machine picked up. They’re not home.