Good Riddance, Super Bowl Week

Originally published February 4th, 2012

“Good riddance, Super Bowl week.”

I really struggled with how to lead this column off.  The heart of it is going to come down to one thing:  The time leading up to the Major League Baseball World Series and All Star Games is infinitely more interesting than the week leading to the Super Bowl.  I thought about going “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” in the title — Something fun like “Dr Strangeglove (see, topical) or: Why The Week Before The Super Bowl Is The Worst Radio Of The Year”, but “Good riddance…” really sums it up the best.  But before I get to the heart of it, I need to set the table.

I am a huge football fan.  I spent most of my childhood playing football with my friends; we’d play it on our street or in each other’s yards.  I’ve played football on a sunny afternoon, in a rainstorm, and in the snow.  We’ve played tackle football among an offensive line of leaf piles off the maple tree in the yard.  Some of my best sports memories growing up are Seahawks games in the Kingdome.  This isn’t going to be an article about how “bad football sucks”, quite the contrary, the game is great!  It’s just the week before the League’s biggest game that blows — It’s a horrible, contrived effort to make the game more dramatic than it really is.

I wonder how many football fans hate the week before Super Bowl as much as I do?  I listen to a ton of sports radio here in Seattle.  It’s part of my daily routine, the hours commuting in the morning, the evening, and in between.  Seattle is a 2-station town now with SportsRadioKJR and ESPN Seattle battling for relevancy in a big-time sports city that lost a star when the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City.  There isn’t a time of the year that I dread more than the week before Super Bowl.  An average day will consist of endless analysis of the same key group of players — The QB, WR, RB, CB, and oh yeah, Ron Gronkowski.  As we get closer to the “Big Game” I can count on the same things I get every year.  Interviews, interviews, and more interviews.  The problem is it’s the same #$&!ing interviews every year.  The media coverage coming out is just as brutal as they try to find every bit of drama, or anything that could be spun as drama to make the entire week seem more interesting.  But it’s not.  And even worse, technically it’s the two weeks before Super Bowl now instead of just the one!  ARGH!

So that’s why I’m writing today.  I hate the week before the Super Bowl.  I would rather be trapped in an elevator with Kenny G playing than trudge through the week of forced radio.  (Except for Michael Irvin — You, I listen too.  Follow me on Twitter!)  

While the Super Bowl is the nation’s biggest game of the year, the lead-in to the World Series and All Star Game are so much better, and I’ll tell you why:

  • Drama – I’m not talking “drama” because a third string special teamer said that the Patriots were going down.  (Or Jeramy Stevens talking about the Steelers — Hawks got jobbed, but that’s another post…)  I’m talking about real drama.  The World Series starts tomorrow, but my #1 start just pitched Game 7 of the Championship Series 2 days ago.  Who’s going to pitch?  My cleanup hitter is in a slump, he’s 0 for 20 and the other team is starting a left hander today.  The week of the Super Bowl is ESPN, Fox Sports, NY, NE, and every paper in between trying to find human interest stories or any kind of positive/negative tidbit that they can explode into being a bigger issue than it really is.
  • It’s More Than One Game – The Super Bowl is just one game.  I know that’s what makes it so much more exciting from an event standpoint, but it comes down to the saying “Any Given Sunday”.  This wraps back around to drama — The storyline changes throughout the week with the World Series!  The home team just lost the first 2 games of the series, Oh shit!  Where do we go now?  The passion from fans really comes out during the week — It’s so much more compelling to listen to, and talk about, when you’re talking about an event that has more moving parts.
  • Fans – Are you at the Super Bowl?  Your team is there, why aren’t you there?  I thought you were a real fan.  Oh wait, it’s because tickets are $6,000.  I have a harder time getting into the week because the passion at the event is different.  I know that fans in New England and New York are talking non-stop about it, they should be, but the aura at the event is different.  Who’s in Indianapolis right now?  Sure there are fans that travel, but look at the World Series.  The vibe is so much different when you’re broadcasting from an event and the home team is actually represented.  That’s what makes College Football GameDay so popular.  I can watch College GameDay all day long.  The atmosphere is amazing!  I’ll watch GameDay when I don’t even care about the teams because it’s fun to watch.  The atmosphere at the Super Bowl is “made for TV” and dull.  It’s the same way on radio.
  • History – Pull it into one game for a minute.  Super Bowl vs the All Star Game.  Again, I’m not comparing events, I’m comparing coverage.  There are so many more storylines and matchups from years of baseball.  Baseball is so stat history and dependant on the past, that they’re able to cover it in a way that creates more interest in the game and matchups.  I’ve never seen all of these American League players on one team, and unlike the NFL “Pro Bowl”, more stars play than don’t.  Do you know how many years the AL beat the NL before the last two years?  You will.  Did you know how many League winners of the All Star Game go on to be the winning League of the World Series?  If you’re following the lead into the game you do.  What about the Super Bowl.  BIGGEST game of the year!  Who will win, New York or New England, they’ve never met before in a …. oh, wait, they’ve already played once this year.  It loses some luster and reinforces the “one game” flaw. 
  • Role Players – Radio row is the hub of Super Bowl week.  Mike Gastineau from KJR has been there most of the week.  But it’s the same guys every year.  Do you think I’ll get an interview with Troy Aikman or Michael Irvin or Joe Montana or wait?!  Tim Tebow is here?  Hold on a minute.  At the end of the week, the NFL is rolling out the same stars each year.  How many interviews do you hear with OL from the undefeated Miami Dolphins team?  What about the kicker from the 85 Bears?  Exactly, no one wants to hear from those guys.  Instead radio will roll out Shula and Ditka.  Again.  Baseball is different.  If the Cardinals are playing who will you talk to this week?  What about the Yankees?  Any team, even teams like the Mariners who haven’t been to the World Series, will have a ton of players to go to for reaction.  And players that fans want to hear from.  There are more stars and key role players in baseball than in football — Offensive Linemen are one of the most important positions on the field, but no one wants to interview them.  1 thru 9, starting pitcher or relief, any of those guys has had an impact on the game in the past, and fans want to hear from them.

Don’t be confused by the post.  What am I doing tomorrow?  I’m watching the Super Bowl!  What do you think I’m doing?!  I love baseball.  I love football.  Each sport has things that the other can’t match.  But for as much as I love both sports, I can’t stand the week before the Super Bowl.  Good riddance.  Now, if only pitchers and catchers reported a week sooner…

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