There can be more to life than festival creating, participating, and traveling.
Last summer, we covered the World Cup: from our own cultural guide to what can be applied to producing art. Now, America is a nation obsessed by a game. (For many this surely must be a relief from other recent obsessions.) The game is the Super Bowl. Updating Paul McCartney’s poetry, this year’s expensive-marketing-company slogan: “Let’s Get It On.” (The game is so big, you don’t have to wait to get to the road.)
How big? Over 140 million watch the game. (In American television ratings, the game is always the number one watched show. Last year’s second most watched show? The Super Bowl post-game show.) Advertisers spend $2 million for a one minute commercial during the game. Each winning player receives $73 thousand and a $5 thousand ring. Losing players receive $38 thousand. (The average NFL salary is $1.1 million, which does not include signing bonuses. Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Colts received a $34.5 million signing bonus in addition to his seven-year $98 million contract.)
You can’t look at the money without also including the projected $100 million spent betting on the game. (That figure only includes the legal wagers.) Online you can find over 160 categories to bet – from who wins to how long it takes Billy Joel to sing the “National Anthem” at the start of the game. (The over-under is 1 minute and 44 seconds. In 2004, Beyoncé stretched the song to 2.09.)
Still, for all the time (pre-game show starts 9 hours before the game), analysis (newspapers with special sections), and build-up (even politicians stop talking about themselves to weigh in on the game) there is something remarkable about the event: it is a festival writ large.
There is accessibility for everyone. For the cognoscenti, there is all the information, statistics, and strategies to discuss. For the casual fan, there are the background stories of the players – the character motifs complete with dramatic arcs of obstacles overcome, and reversals of fortune. For those with no interest in the game, there is the opportunity to be welcomed into a home for a party with lots of food, drink, and cheers.
In other words, the Super Bowl follows the same model as a festival: open to all, fun for many, and with live drama.
Life is good when the sporting life and the artistic life come together. Don’t you think?
- Bill Reichblum