January 2020

Preparing for post game conversations

The big gam is coming up. Super Bowl LIV will take place this Sunday, February 2, in Miami. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the contest. The game begins at 6:30 in Miami, which is 4:30 here in South Dakota.

One small group in which I participate usually meets at 4 pm on Sunday afternoons. The text messages have been circulating around the group. Should we meet at 3 pm so people can get home to watch the game? Others have suggested that we just take a week off because the pregame show and sharing snacks is part of the afternoon’s adventure. I weighed in saying that I could make the adjustment in time work, but I am not going to express an opinion on whether or not the meeting should be skipped.

Here is my confession: I don’t really feel any need to watch the game. I’ll pay enough attention so that I know who has won and can be somewhat intelligent in conversation about the game for the next week or so when it will be a frequent topic of conversation. I probably won’t, however, watch the game. I guess I’m not a very big sports fan. Unlike my daughter, who lived five years of her life just 50 miles from Kansas City, I don’t have any regional loyalty. I am not an expert in the game and I haven’t been following the season up to this point. I know the favorite teams of many of my friends, but that is about it.

I remember the hype of the first Super Bowl. I was an eighth-grader. The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Bart Starr was the quarterback. The half time show featured a couple of university marching bands. Football half times were almost always marching bands in those days. Later, when I went to college, I was a member of the marching band. I thought we put on some pretty good halftime shows even though our college team wasn’t exactly championship material. We were a small liberal arts college and the program didn’t have the funds or the scholarships of the neighboring colleges.

Several years later, when we were graduate students, friends were going away for the super bowl weekend and offered us the use of their small portable television set to watch the game. We didn’t have a television at that time. I took them up on the offer and watched the game on their small black and white set. I can’t even remember who was playing that year. I don’t remember much else about it except that having a television in our apartment and watching it on a Sunday afternoon was a real novelty for me.

Not being the biggest sports fan, I’ve learned that there are several things that one should know if you want to be able to have a conversation about the game. The first is obvious. You need to know which teams are playing and a little bit about some of the star athletes. It also helps to know which team is the regional favorite. Here in South Dakota, there are a lot of loyal fans of the Minnesota Vikings. The Green Bay Packers also have some very loyal fans in our congregation. And here in Western South Dakota the Denver Broncos have their fans.

Like many others in his home town, I have followed the career of the NFL’s oldest active player, Adam Vinatieri. He’s a real local favorite who helped win four Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and one with the Indianapolis Colts. But his wins were a long time ago, back when the new century still had two zeros in the middle of each year.

After knowing about the teams and a few of the players, if you want to keep up with the conversation, you need to know a bit about the halftime show. According to the television ratings there are some people who tune in just for the halftime show. My problem is that I don’t follow entertainment any closer than I follow sports.

This year’s headliners are Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Like Adam Vinatieri, have been around for quite a long time. Both have recorded in both Spanish and English. Vinatieri is 46. Shakira will turn 43 on the day of the game. I don’t think you’re supposed to say much about a woman’s age, but this won’t be J.Lo’s first trip to Miami. Back in July, I read about her 50’s birthday party in the city when ARod gave her a red Porsche for a gift.

Finally, if you want to be able to discuss the game during the week after it is over, you need to be able to say something about the ads. The 77 in-game advertisements are some of the most expensive air time that is offered for sale. Companies now are in the practice of “leaking” their ads in advance of the show. This year politicians are getting into the act. Nearly unlimited funding for political campaigns have put them into the league of the biggest spenders in the industry. Because of the high price of the ad slots, the companies don’t spare on production for those ads, either. Walmart, Jeep and Dashlane will all have their commercials. Discover, Audi and Google are vying for people to remember what they have to say. Then, of course, there are the beer commercials. I can’t imagine a Super Bowl without a Bud Light commercial. Amazon, Microsoft, and Quicken Loans will all be there with advertisements that cost a lot of money to produce. Pepsi is the official sponsor of the half time show, so you can bet they didn’t skimp on their ads, either.

So, if you don’t plan on watching the game, be sure to study up on the halftime show and the commercials. You don’t want to be left without anything to say when the gang is discussing the game over coffee or around the water cooler.

I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to at least check in to see which team won the game, either.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!