It happened to be the night of the Superbowl final. We were staying in a hotel in Fort Worth, so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about – it had even been mentioned in the Republican presidential candidate debate the day before.
I found the right TV channel and there it was. Seems it’s American football, not baseball as I’d ignorantly imagined it might be.
Denver Broncos were winning 10-7 against Colorado Panthers, but the game was only halfway through. I watched for a while, but couldn’t make head or tale of what was going on. It looked a bit like rugby, but with forward passes and tackling of players who did not have the ball. Strange.
We went out to eat. Most of the bars and restaurants had the game on multiple TV screens. Some even had lights out – it was just you, food and the game. We went to a more civilized place and were offered a booth away from the screens, enjoying our evening repast with but the occasional glimpse of the game. The waitress said it was so quiet because everyone stays home to watch.
After meal and postprandial stroll we arrived back at the hotel to find the game still on. Then I realized why. Every few minutes the game stops, the clock stops and the ads come on. All totally geared to TV.
Denver were now clearly winning, as forecast by The Donald (Trump), and the scoring system was still as clear as mud.
It seemed that if someone made a suicidal run through a great scrimmage of players he could not repeat same for some time. Very sensible.
Then came a moment of magic. A Denver player sidestepped an opponent, wrongfooted another, and was suddenly running free. All the opposing defenders were running to intercept his trajectory, and all the Denver players were running to intercept and stop them. Pure poetry in motion. As the runner was battered into submission, it seems he’d at least gained some ground. And he could so easily have scored (like a rugby try?) without that heroic defence.
Yes, you could easily get into this game! But there’s so much of the more tedious grind, and really, even with all the padding and head shields, it’s a dangerous game to play, is it not? Some even think it should be banned, because of the danger to the players, e.g. Dave Bry in The Guardian.
Of course, being America there has to be a hero. Step forward Peyton Manning, Broncos quarterback, winning his second superbowl title at the age of 39 – incredible to be playing such a tough game at the top level at that age.
In the end the Broncos won 24-10. I somehow missed the last 10 seconds, as the media interviews seemed to have already started.
It soon became clear that in this rather selective viewing we’d missed a lot of the fun – like Coldplay, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and the celebs and ads. Even President Obama joined in this national event, playing a prerecorded part in Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. Perhaps I’m just missing the point of the ‘grand spectacle’.
As we checked out, the guy at the desk confirmed my suspicions – yes, he likes it as a great national spectacle and talking point – but no, he hasn’t got a clue what the rules of the game are.
If you really want to know how the game works, try this website, where the top image came from: howstuffworks
Peyton Manning clip is from Liberty Voice