Sports

Super game overshadows super hype

When I was asked to write about the Super Bowl viewing experience from a fan’s perspective, I was apprehensive. By the nature of my job, I’ve lost some of my perspective as a fan.

In the past, I’ve been kind of pessimistic about the Super Bowl.

Why?

So much about the Super Bowl isn’t about football. It’s about the commercials. It’s about the halftime show. It’s about feel-good story lines. It’s about history. It’s about the event.

It’s why there’s a seemingly nine-hour pregame show. It’s why my mom is willing to watch the Super Bowl every year, despite not knowing, or caring, exactly who is playing.

In the past, broadcasts of the Super Bowl tended to cater to people like my mom, who is more interested in which celebrities are at the game than the game itself.

Just because the Super Bowl is considered an event doesn’t mean the game broadcast should be treated that way.

At no point in the history of the NFL has there been better access, technology or commitment to making the television broadcast of a football game enjoyable and better than actually being at the game.

The NFL Network was showing old Super Bowl broadcasts earlier this week, and they were painful to watch, even those of just a few years ago.

We are spoiled as football fans. The invention of high-definition television has changed the way we watch games. It’s to the point, where sports – football specifically – are unwatchable when not in hi-def (hopefully Fox Sports Net will someday figure that out).

Think about the number of cameras and camera angles used to document the game.

We have gone from slow-motion to super slow-motion to CBS’ super-vision, which is super, super slow-motion in hi-def.

How many angles did we see of Lance Moore’s fantastic spinning, grabbing catch for the two-point conversion? Not only did we see it in multiple angles, but we saw it in crisp HD slowed down enough that we could see his fingers working to hold the ball as the defender tried to knock it away.

So while I was trying to scribble down notes about the broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV, I found myself getting lost in the game, getting excited at big plays and hanging on every replay in what turned out to be a fantastic game.

Maybe that’s the best critique I can offer for CBS’ broadcast effort. While I was supposed to be nitpicking the broadcast, the game sidetracked my attention.

Of course it helped that it was great game. But when they were showing football, they were talking about football.

It’s not like the Fox broadcast of the World Series, where they show audience shots of stars of TV series coming in the fall and have Tim McCarver take a break from mispronouncing players names to heap false praise on a TV show he has never watched.

The smartest aspect of the CBS broadcast was to let the game be about football, and use the never-ending pregame show to deal with story lines and such. There was no mention of Hurricane Katrina, only one shot of the Manning family and no celebrity shots. Of course, when a pregame starts at 11 a.m. local time for a 3:30 kickoff, there should be nothing left but the game.

Some random musings:

 • I tuned in at 11 a.m. for pregame. By 11:07, Shannon Sharpe was screaming at Bill Cowher about the Saints defense and Cowher was screaming at Sharpe about the Saints offense. At that point, I’d seen enough. Why is it that all analysts now yell to get their point across?

 • Say what you want about announcer Jim Nantz – and believe me, I have. Say he’s never said a critical thing in his life. Say his Stepford perma-grin gives you the creeps. Say he’s bland to the point of boring. But also say he is professional. Say he isn’t a self-promoter. Say he isn’t a condescending and preening know-it-all. Say he isn’t Joe Buck, thankfully.

 • As for broadcast partner Phil Simms. Is he as good as Cris Collinsworth? No. Is he as prepared as Ron Jaworski? Probably not. But it’s clear he puts in the time, he understands the game and is willing to say a few critical things without being ridiculous (Joe Theismann), confused (Dan Dierdorf) or moronic (Tony Siragusa).

 • The commercials? I give them a “B” overall. Only a handful of laugh-out-loud moments, specifically Betty White and Abe Vigoda getting pummeled, and the careerbuilder.com “casual Friday” commercial.

 • Part of me wants to crush The Who and its halftime performance. But I didn’t expect Roger Daltrey to sing like he once could. The man is 65 years old and he pretty much sang like it. It’s too bad Pete Townshend didn’t do a better job of buttoning up his shirt. Seeing his exposed gut every time he did his trademark windmill arm swing on his guitar will give me nightmares.

 • It’s wrong to criticize The Who, but it’s not wrong to criticize the people who decided to book them as halftime entertainment.

I realize the last time the Super Bowl booked somewhat current popular musical stars to play at halftime, Janet Jackson’s nipple was exposed. But since then it’s been Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Who.

 • It’s scary that former Seahawks safety Ken Hamlin of all people offered a sane perspective. He was on ESPN’s “First Take” the other day lamenting the lack of modern stars, even saying most of the players probably didn’t know jus who The Who is.

Remember Hamlin is a man who can’t understand the concept of play-action fakes and was once hit on the head with a stop sign, yet he seems logical on this subject.

 • But the best part of the Super Bowl? Well, it was, of course, the game.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com

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