“There Was A Football Game Last Night”


Yes, I know that there was a football game last night and I know who won. But I didn’t watch the game and really wasn’t interested in it. Oh, I know who played (how can anyone not know that?) and I know who won (even the BBC radio news I listen to gave the score).

Still, I know it makes me some sort of oddball in today’s society but for a variety of reasons, I just don’t get interested in the Super Bowl that much any more.

On Saturday, WFUV (Fordham University) hosts a sports call-in show and they were broadcasting from the media center in New York City. They were asking people to call in with their own personal Super Bowl moments but I never got the chance to do so.

But it got me thinking. And as I was working on my notes for this coming Sunday (“The Master Lesson” at Sloatsburg United Methodist Church; services there start at 10:30 and you are welcome to attend) I came across a comment I made a couple of years ago concerning the first game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

. . . the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in what was billed as the “NFL – AFL World Championship Game.” The term “Super Bowl” didn’t get attached to the game until the 1970 game, when the Chiefs met the Minnesota Vikings and beat them. And while Super Bowls are a virtual sell-out once the game site is announced, there were plenty of empty seats in the Los Angeles Coliseum for that first championship game. By the way, tickets for that game costs upwards of $12.00; that might get you a parking place at today’s game

Interestingly enough, there are no video tapes of that first game as the tapes were reused because no one thought that the game would have the status that it does today. Clearly, that didn’t happen. The game is no longer just a game between league champions on a Sunday afternoon; it has evolved into a multi-hour spectacular with companies spending millions and millions of dollars for a few moments of advertising time (even when research suggests that the return for that moment is miniscule at best). Half-time at a Super Bowl has taken on a life of its own, with entertainment superstars vying for the right to headline the half-time.

Today’s Super Bowl game will be broadcast to practically every country on the globe that has a radio or television station and probably in most of the languages that people speak. It will almost certainly be broadcast on the Armed Forces radio and television networks so that serviceman abroad can have a taste of home. But it will also be broadcast to countries where football is played by kicking a round ball; it will almost certainly be viewed as curiosity to many of those viewers.

I have nothing against football but I no longer care about professional football. I have, on occasion, noted that the most common words uttered by a football official at an elementary, junior-high or high school game is “this isn’t Sunday, coach.” Too many coaches spend all their time watching the professional games in hopes of finding a play that will bring their team success instead of focusing on the fundamentals of the game. (from “What Is Our Focus?”)

My memories of the Super Bowl are of those first games when they were really games, not the extravaganzas they have become and truly statements about the quality of play in the AFL. But that was because I was always an AFL fan and not necessarily a NFL fan (though the St. Louis Cardinals of the 60s were a favorite team of mine because of my family ties to St. Louis and because the quarterback at that time, Charley Johnson, had degrees in chemical engineering while I was beginning work on my own chemistry degree).

If I were to say favorite Super Bowls, it would have to be the 1969 game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets and the 1970 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings.

The ’69 game is the one where Joe Namath guaranteed a victory over the colts. After the way the Packers had dominated the Chiefs and the Raiders in the first two games of this series, everyone automatically assumed that the NFL team was the better team. And they were aghast at the audacity of Joe Namath to make such a pronouncement. But he was a good quarterback and he knew what it would take to win and he delivered! I had to work in the college library that Sunday and could only get a chance to zip over the Student Union every now and then to see how the game was progressing.

What I remember from the 1970 game comes from some of the highlights of Hank Stram, the coach of the Chiefs, chortling and joking about what was happening on the field as the Chiefs defeated the Vikings.

Somewhere in the future, I may get interested in the game again but it isn’t going to be any time soon. With all that is going on the world right now, the one thing we don’t need are gladiatorial contests. As I have said when I was coaching, if you can convince me that the outcome of this game will make the sun come up in the west tomorrow morning, then I will be concerned. Until that time, it is just a game and I will treat it as such.

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