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The ultimate in excess

At the risk of sounding obtuse and un-American, I have to admit that when the Super Bowl aired, I couldn't have cared less and I'm not sure why.

I like football and it used to be something that I could get really excited about. But I find the ceaseless mega-hype to be a sensory overload, a bit of a national embarrassment, fodder for terrorist verbal abuse and ultimately a turn off, as if the endless promos and coverage works in reverse for me, like pain pills that eventually cause pain instead of alleviating it once you've taken too many.

My apathy might be the result of 28 of the past 40 Super Bowls being lopsided victories whose outcome was determined long before you popped the top off your second beer and dipped your third chip into the salsa; which is a little like a wedding night where your lovely bride announces that she's tired and goes to bed early wearing rollers and pajamas with feet.

The TV networks and National Football League would have you believe that the whole world stops what it's doing on Super Bowl Sunday to witness the event. But the truth is that the Super Bowl's TV ratings have only recently began to catch up to those of the last episode of MASH, which aired back in 1983, long before HDTV featured oodles of sparsely clad cheerleaders, halftime shows with washed up mega-stars and more hype and propaganda than a presidential election, nuclear onslaught, or meteor on a collision course with earth.

Recent statistics show that less than one third of the U.S. population tunes into the game and less than 2 percent of the planet's 6 billion inhabitants. That's a little like one or two students dancing at the eighth grade sock hop and might be less exposure than Britney Spears got when she shaved her head, Conan O'Brien got when NBC forced him off of his late show and O.J. Simpson got when he went for a relaxing afternoon drive, hunched down in the back of a white Bronco.

I was at a soccer match in Spain a few years ago when F.C. Barcelona met rival Real Madrid and it drew bigger ratings than the Super Bowl, so what's the big deal? And this dawn until dusk Super Bowl Sunday programming leaves me as nauseated as when my dad used to light up Old Golds in our crowded family car and I'd signal Mom to have him pull over before I reminded everyone what she'd served for breakfast.

And who really watches the Super Bowl anyway besides team owners, fanatics, sport writers, bartenders, gamblers and the parents of the players? The rest of America is too consumed with their Super Bowl party conversation, snacks, drinks and who's wearing what to focus on much of the action. Or they're napping because they started sipping toddies at the beginning of programming, which seems like days before the actual game begins.

Meanwhile, skinny people use it as an excuse to eat and fat people use it as an excuse to eat more, just like the real holidays. And few of us has the courage to admit that the whole thing reeks of being staged by a "carney" with a rigged shooting gallery or a mostly tasteless pimp from Chicago's south side.

Personally, I now have a list of things that I'm more interested in and have moved up the list, ahead of the Super Bowl: For example did you know that a duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why? That a cat has over 100 vocal sounds, while a dog has only 10. Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors. "Stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand. Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming a tenth of a calorie. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver and purple. A snail can sleep for three years and 40 percent of all people who come to a party in your home snoop in your medicine cabinet.

Clans from long ago used to get rid of people without killing them by burning their houses down -- hence the expression "to get fired." And the oldest living tree is a California bristlecone pine named "Methuselah," which is about 4,600 years old.

I also know a guy who came home between his third and fourth tour in Iraq with a faraway look in his eyes that told me everything I needed to know about the importance of a football game. But then I could never get too excited about dancing with stars, reality shows or most network programming, so maybe I'm just an old stick in the mud or I think too much.

-- Holten is the Dickinson State University Foundation communications coordinator.