Sunday, 2 February 2014

ANOTHER Super Bowl blog: The Greatest Show on Turf vs Douglas Elder

If you're reading this because I've forced you to via my Facebook and Twitter profiles, thank you.
If you've accidentally stumbled across this due to the incredible amount of Super Bowl internet traffic, KEEP READING, I MIGHT MAKE YOU LAUGH.

When I set up this blog exactly two years ago, I did so with the intention of discussing the biggest sports and finding a way to make them trivial, light-hearted and insignificant. Sometimes, with varying success, I have even tried to be funny.

Tonight, as I sit at my family computer with a half-eaten banana for company, I face my biggest test: making The Super Bowl funny. I must point out a couple of things at this point: One, that I know less about American Football than Jamie Redknapp knows about regular football. Two, I may offend a few of my Gridiron-loving friends and, worse still, the 80% of tonight's audience who know less about the sport than I do. Gridiron is American Football by the way, guys. And yes, in all probability, this won't be a funny article.

My earliest exposure to American Football was in an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer - who had earlier expressed a wish to own the Dallas Cowboys - ends up being given the Denver Broncos. Homer's anguished cry of "oohhh the Denver Broncos!" led me to an assumption which I still carry to this day: that the Broncos are shit. However, with Denver contesting tonight's match, it has caused me to doubt everything I thought I knew - nothing - about this sport.

Facing up to the Broncos are the Seattle Seahawks (I think, I've done no research). What do I think about the match-up? Well, I will say that everything looks set up for a game of American Football which, at the end of the day, is what the fans want to see. The game will either be really close, or one of the Seahawks or Broncos will win comfortably. It is that hard to call for me, so don't expect a prediction.

If nothing else, Super Bowl XLVIII should be a good exercise for all of us, as it has taught us the importance of clever marketing, sleep patterns and Roman numerals. The last week has been filled with predictions, exaggerations and expectations. In fact, if The Super Bowl was called The Hyperbole, it wouldn't make too much difference to the meaning of the event.

I know what you're thinking. "Doug, if you're going to be really sarcastic and keep naysaying, why are you even writing about this?" That's a valid point as, in all honesty, I do quite like The Super Bowl. I like the razzmatazz of the event and the whole - for want of a better word - 'Americaness' of everything. I don't know much about American Football, but I know just about enough to enjoy the games if there is nothing else on. In this country, many of us treat this sport with a lot of cynicism, especially given the predominance of Rugby Union. I think this is a shame as, just like with any sport, there is the potential for great drama and controversy. To dismiss this sport is tempting, but ultimately ignorant.

How British Rugby fans - usually called Brian - view American Football
"Why do those big girls wear so much padding?" Rugby Union fans ask. "Why is the game so stop-start?" they (ironically) cry. "Why are the referees so camp?" I wonder. Whether you like the nuances of the game or not, there is much to admire about this sport, even if it isn't exactly my cup of tea. There is a lot of tactical acumen required, not to mention incredible athletic prowess.

By the by, the reason the players require padding where Rugby players do not is because, in American Football, you can be hit regardless of whether you have the ball or not, and you can be hit from any direction. Being clothes-lined in mid-air doesn't sound like my idea of fun, and neither does landing neck-first after a seven foot drop, so I think we can let this stupid point slide.

Besides, whether we like it or not, American Football is growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic. More and more of my friends are picking a favourite team who they know nothing about, and I even know two people who ACTUALLY like the sport, naming players and everything. Indeed, talk of a London-based franchise is not as far-fetched as it once was. After all, this country often hosts regular-season NFL games now, and the crowds are always excellent, which is more than can be said for attendances at more 'English' sporting matches. I'm looking at you, Wigan Athletic fans.

To be honest, as a wannabe sports writer, I really should be getting to know this game a lot more. The opportunity to brush up on one of the few sports I don't have a geeky, 40-year-old-virgin-like obsession with should be too good to miss. But for whatever reason, it isn't really for me. Maybe it's the showboating celebrations over insignificant passages of play, the constant build-up or the need for a concert. A CONCERT! HALFWAY THROUGH THE EVENT! ON THE ACTUAL PITCH!

Even the prospect of accidental boobage hasn't tempted me this year.
The Super Bowl is often described as 'The Greatest Show on Turf' which I think does a huge disservice to other sporting events, and Ground Force. However, I'll leave people to their appreciation of this huge event and the chance to pay homage to one of America's greatest pastimes. Although there is much to deride about this sport, there is a lot more to appreciate.

As for me, I now have a banana to finish and a bed to go to. I won't be making the admirable journey through the night, following the game to the bitter end, but I hope y'all enjoy the match.