Letter to a Brazilian Friend
I understand your reluctance to watch the Super Bowl, but, much to my surprise, I find myself wanting to tell you why you should watch it.
I’m not recommending that you watch any other American football games. I have a lot against it. Let me count the ways:
It’s too dangerous, certainly for kids in school who want to play it. The record of injuries, especially concussions, is terrible, and the injuries do not stop as players go on to college and the pros.
It doesn’t even feel like a sport sometimes. A college team, for example, can have a hundred players on the roster! This is partly because they need to have bodies to put in when other players get injured. But the weirdest thing is that a “team” is composed of multiple different teams. Most players play either offense or defense, but rarely both. I mean, in basketball, soccer, etc., everyone has to play “both ends of the field”. (Baseball allows the pitcher to play offense only in the AL(?).) Football feels like a military campaign except that soldiers have to “play” both offense and defense.
Football culture, at least among the fans, sucks. My brain is condemned to remember several decades ago, when UNC football fans discovered that their SUVs - the Ford Bronco in particular - had enough ground clearance to park over the graves in the old cemetery on the UNC campus! I think they found the best parking on top of the graves of slaves, which were pretty low (it’s worth visiting, BTW). That symbolizes entitled football fans to me. I have more respect for the players.
Iris and I have lived at “football schools”, UT Austin and UG Athens. ’Nuff said.
The athleticism, especially at the pro level, is astounding and it’s often on display in the Super Bowl. Many successful plays, especially passes, are almost supernatural. (This happens in all sports of course.)
Nevertheless, I don’t usually watch football games other than the Super Bowl. Sometimes I watch UNC games, hoping that they loose. If UNC ever gets a good football team, it risks becoming yet another “football school”, a horrible fate.
The Super Bowl is different. It’s one of the most-watched events in sports, not as big as the World Cup, of course, but big.
This sometimes means that the football itself is exceptional. Sometimes it’s boring, of course. If one team dominates, the game becomes like soccer when one team is up one or two goals: boring.
BUT, the Super Bowl is one of the best ways to understand American culture (do I need to put that in quotes?). All the talking heads before and during the game clue you into how many Americans talk about sports.
The advertisements. A Super Bowl ad costs in the millions of dollars per minute! This means that most of the ads are shown for the first time at the Super Bowl. You’ve got to admit that American advertisers can be very creative, often very funny (foreign ones, too, I imagine). In fact Super Bowl ads can usually be found online, where you can watch them without watching the Super Bowl itself. I have done that in the past.
The halftime show. You think the events in the Roman Colosseum were amazing? Try the over-the-top Super Bowl halftime show. Personally I find most of them pretty dumb, but not all. Prince was amazing, for example. I don’t know what the show is this year if they haven’t canceled it. It’s worth watching at least the beginning.
I believe that Amanda Gorman will read a poem this year. I don’t know if this will be before or during the game.
At least the first half or so, along with your son and hopefully you.
… Miss Scarlet & The Duke on PBS Masterpiece Theater.
Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders) stars in a six-part mystery as the headstrong, first-ever female detective in Victorian London, who won’t let any naysayers stop her from keeping her father’s business running. Stuart Martin (Jamestown) plays her childhood friend, professional colleague, and potential love interest, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector William Wellington, a.k.a., The Duke.
It’s a lot of fun and has good feminist creds.