The One That Got Away

Some people meditate on holy texts, and some people try to clear their minds of language. Some write, some run, some garden or knit or walk, some just sit or doodle or smoke as their way to reflect. Many people, of course, never allow their minds the luxury of slowing down (a little), of reducing the stream of incoming information (for a moment) so they can think. I build contemplation into my life in various ways, writing being one of them, and this week I have spent many hours reflecting on the Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League in the United States.  Some of this was intentional.

A monumental event, a cultural festival.

I sat down with friends to watch this game, which is an annual cultural earthquake that rattles every corner of American life. For football fans, including Canadians, it’s an important game,  but it goes 20,000 leagues past a simple sports championship. Some people seriously argue that there should be a week’s holiday surrounding Game Day, or perhaps following it. Consider: the last three Super Bowls (XLV through XLVII, and don’t leave out the Roman numerals!) have been the three most-watched TV events in American history. Nearly 50% of all U.S. households tuned in, 60% in Baltimore, home of the champion Ravens. By the tense conclusion, about 115 million Americans were watching. Every year, the size of the advertising bonanza grows, with companies shelling out nearly four million dollars to CBS, the broadcaster, for each 30-second slot. People all over North America are still chattering about the ads, which have become a spectacle in themselves, attracting excited interest even from those who wouldn’t cross the street to watch the game. Millions of dollars and months of preparation went into the super-diva Beyonce’s half-time show. It’s kind of a big deal.

She can also sing. No lip-synch, this time.

All of this may partly explain, though not excuse, how my writing plan went into the ditch. I wrote during the game — football observations, yeah, ’cause I’m a football fan from not long after infancy, but I also had an eye and several fingers on everything that surrounds the game — and was going to quickly polish and publish that very day. (In China, we got the game on Monday morning our time; we’re 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.) The piece got completely away from me, however. I couldn’t stop meditating, er, writing.

So, I’ve belatedly put the “Super Bowl Monday” post (divided into two parts, each approaching 5000 words) into the “It’s All About Sports!” section, over to the right, but less than a quarter of the content is football-specific. I went a trifle nuts talking about the commercials, and about the spectacular music and gyrations produced by Beyonce Knowles and her company. If the perils and pleasures of 49ers and Ravens footballers mean nothing to you, you may still enjoy large parts. (I’ve indented the football talk so that it can be seen easily and skipped. What a guy!)

If you feel brave, dive in. If you don’t, dip your toes in the water when you like. I will also take some of the non-NFL bits and publish them here, At First Glance, for those of you who shudder at reading in the sports section. Thanks, as always, for reading.


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