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ABOVE AND BEYOND SUPER BOWL XLV
As of now,
with almost two weeks still to go as of this writing,-- before that
momentous TV event—Superbowl 45---commences, the very good news, at least for Fox News stockholders, is that
all available commercial time during the game has been sold for an estimated
$2.8 million to $3 million for each thirty seconds. A few years ago this almost evanescent but then standard time slot presentation went for about $256,000
per 30 second availability. But
the lessening grip of the recession is probably having its very welcome financial
effect. Also entering into the crucial
economic equation is the make up of the
contestants. If the
Yes, in this era of genuine “smash mouth” football, where we are beginning to wonder about the long term health of our noble and mostly very courageous football heroes, in this obvious concussion creating activity women are now an important, if still peripheral aspect. That is, in the estimated over 100 hundred million or more who will be sporadically tuned into the over four hour broadcast, an estimated 20 or more percent will be women; watching not so intently the play by play nitty gritty action on the gridiron but the very numerous commercials, many brand new for the vast super bowl Sunday audience, hitherto all beer swilling and mostly unfettered masculine hedonisim but now of a more amorphous questionable sort. And most probably trying for some sort of same sex parity in this once unquestioning bastion of male dominance and superiority. With supposedly knowledgeable female commentators on the game’s progress as well as on more general alluring products that both sexes and their children would enjoy.
this is a world wide TV saturation for one day both my wife and I personally
can attest to. In one of the last four
years ---2007--- on a
hard reality at the moment is that over 25 countries will be televising this
latest football epic and at least providing much needed solace or even splendor
for the winning devotees! (And it is now several sessions into this
article and I now know what two teams are left for this championship
Super Bowl extravaganza!) So, dear reader, be comforted with the sure security that wherever you may be that landmark Superbowl evening---the game starts at 6:15 on Sunday Feb. 6th ---- almost wherever you may be on civilized Planet Earth you will be absolutely current with the unfolding struggle. And the contestants the
But somewhat beyond the present very pleasant positive --which also includes rather large salaries and signing bonuses for all, even including neophyte rookies who start at close to one million dollars,there are long term doubts. Consider, however, that the average career is a little more than three and a half seasons, and the question of long term injuries, starting with present probable brain concussions and lingering long term arthritic events is being finally addressed. Various congressional committees have even held hearings on football injuries; no random thousand sample retired football player study has yet to be taken and there is growing public concern about possible long term effects of effective currently approved and effective “smash mouth” tackling and blocking. I certainly enjoy watching on high definition television the total battle of contesting teams offensive and defensive struggles and the teamwork, strategy, and sheer heroism of the quarterback, standing coolly behind his few blocking protectors---in the so called “pocket”--- with less then ten seconds to discern the most eligible receiver downfield and estimate where, two three to three seconds later, his throw should arrive. And then after absorbing a resounding thwack across his body by the defending pass rusher--- still rising up eagerly from the blow of the malevolent(?)tackler to see the result of his eager, intrepid behavior ----maybe, perhaps, a touchdown pass completion! Or even better,----- that, long almost one hundred yard kick-off return, the runner threading artfully, and with almost balletic grace past many frustrated missing tacklers, and in the last few goal line crossing yards waving the ball in one hand triumphantly held high!
Simply marvelous in sheltered living room ease with expert replay analysis at hand to bolster even more the armchair comfort of the distant live spectacle. But even more is the secure knowledge that no one near or dear---no kin or progeny is on the field of action, the fabulous football gridiron. Still much better a dentist, lawyer, doctor, accountant, computer specialist or even in the front office of a sports enterprise. and the eternal vicarious joy or disappointment this somewhat removed involvement still allows!
Indeed, what inevitably seems to be happening is the unwitting sanctifying of another neutral----non religious and apolitical national holiday—another but somewhat diminished recognition of the necessity of maleness in some legitimate form or other. Just a one day event and on a dull Sunday in February, not slowing any mail delivery or interfering with the stock market or any other exciting event, and not the long drawn out seven day baseball World Series baseball possibility. But still a steadfast interracial male event that women can watch and admire but not really co-opt. That seems, logically, where Super Bowl Sunday seems headed. A taming of male dominance—and ferocity-- to the sports section of the daily newspaper with only few awkward consequences. However, in almost every other aspect in real life the most compelling and perhaps fundamental trend of American society has been for the emergence of growing female involvement and perhaps even complete equality or more in most aspects of our society. In the sports world there is now equivalent female participation levels and perhaps public interest in all aspects of the sports world except football, and one hopes that lack of high current male involvement will not be further impinged upon! As inferred above, females have now a very healthy section of the survival pie already--- almost 60% of all college undergraduates, 53%of all managerial and professional jobs, 54% of all accountants, 35% of physicians, 50% dentists; most crucially now almost 60%of current admission applications are from women! Indeed, as of now several higher level colleges are considering affirmative action for male students. And, rumor has it, even now, that mere maleness raises admission chances quite a bit, even for poor old white students!!
In football we have the prestige of the ProBowl , where the players themselves select their estimate of the best players at each postion. Both leagues then play each other in the annual “Pro Bowl Classic”. Which is remarkable for its almost injury free competition but rather lackluster viewing. But there has never been anywhere a definitive random study of at least one thousand retired National Football League players, and the game itself over the years certainly has become more “smash mouth”, faster and more aggressive. And the average weight of the offensive and defensive linemen has increased many times over the years and it is not unusual for behemoth 300 pound or more opponent players consistently involved in accidently or deliberately forceably colliding, tackling, or falling on each other. Mondays after Sunday game day, most of the of the players spend all day recuperating in bed, and it now takes a 53 man roster to field the necessary 11 men playing on the field at any one time in this 60 minute contest. Fortunately with many brief—45 second-- strategy huddles, and some time outs for needed other contingencies. There are also 6 umpires or referees constantly running up and down the field of play; people who must need be in excellent shape too, and who are occasionally carted off the field after the unfortunate minor mayhem of an accidental collision with a very earnest and preoccupied player.
Not so coincidental is this week’s very influential New Yorker magazine, which has a very timely pre Super Bowl story about the growing awareness, and concern over, the rising incidence of football injuries. While the article does not pretend to be totally comprehensive it definitely highlights more public concern about current physical injury in this growing “smash mouth” emphasis of what has avowedly always been a very physical sport. And details many disabilities that some retired players are burdened with. Congressional committees, equipment makers, and concerned college officials---whose entire athletic budget is usually financed by their college football team’s attendance receipts—are being more attentive to the destructive aspects of the game.
Hopefully the pendulum will not swing too far in the opposite direction. We do not want the namby pambyism of the Pro Bowl event. Maybe the force of a physical hit can be recalibrated Nintendo style on a monitor up in the press booth on a TV monitor application. It will still be testosterone manifested but only subtly sublimated. And we can still have a Super Bowl Sunday with a somewhat refurbished and evolved football technology-----probably more passing and less running. But still part of the audacity of hope--- not just dubious wishful thinking!
But, above all, let’s have that study of long term disabilities now. So that we can still go forward realistically with the essence of the game of football; still a great combination of the superb athleticism of brawn and brains that can still win the day ---and future superb Sunday Super Bowls. And not so many severe Monday recoveries!