You should watch the Superbowl this year
By Benjamin Cooper
America is just days shy of its biggest sporting event of the year, the 47th NFL Superbowl. It's an event heaving with bombast and hyperbole and it manages to get bigger and freakier each year. The latest edition has everything that McG needs for his next travesty of a sports movie: rival coaches who are actually brothers; a veteran hard-man/maybe-murderer in his last ever game trying to take down a young exciting quarterback who can beat entire championship teams on his own; and adding a dash of poignancy is host New Orleans welcoming back the glittering showpiece of American sport for the first time since Hurricane Katrina ripped apart their stadium and city in 2005. Oh, and let's not forget a halftime show featuring Queen of Pop Beyoncé, freshly vindicated from a lip synching storm-in-a-presidential-inauguration-teacup.
(Those who have no idea what is going on during an American football game could do worse than this instructional video from mustachioed actor, and once Florida State University running back, Burt Reynolds). You probably couldn't do a whole lot worse but hey - at least you can squirm along with friends to the clumsy sound affects that augment Burt's tired attempts at raciness. Entire minutes of fun to be had!)
America's favourite, and most brutal, game will be contested this year by the Baltimore Ravens (champions of the American Football Conference) and the San Francisco 49ers (winners of the National Football Conference). Both conferences are supposedly an even division of franchises from the eastern and western sides of the 50 states, so it's statistically unlikely that the two opposing coaches for the penultimate game would wind up coming from the same womb. The Ravens' John Harbaugh has it over his younger brother Jim in the sideline composure stakes, but Jim - himself an ex-NFL quarterback and current head coach for the 49ers – is far more entertaining and fertile fodder for the interwebs. 'Harbowl' has become the natural tagline for the first Superbowl to pit two brothers against each other in head coaching roles, with endless musings by television commentators and sports analysts about how their father Jack must be feeling about the game.
The narratives of NFL obsessively pursue match-ups, and the focus beyond the coaching bench this year is no different as veteran linebacker (i.e. the dude whose job it is to cause significant brain injury, a la The Waterboy) Ray Lewis tries to nullify new kid on the block Colin Kaepernick. Lewis carries the rare distinction of being the only person to be awarded Most Valuable Player (at Superbowl XXXV) and then be prevented from uttering the signature phrase "I'm going to Disney World!" This was probably because he and two friends were indicted 12 months earlier on murder and aggravated assault charges. Lewis was later acquitted, following his testimony against his friends, with the biggest mystery being whether or not he did actually get to go to Disney World.
Kaepa is the upstart with some serious moves. There have been a raft of successful young quarterbacks this season, but only one of them has heaps of tattoos and a highlights video set to the music from The Dark Knight Rises There's been a lot of talk about his tattoos; in the midst of all of these distractions the dude with the worst facial hair in the Bay Area has reinvented his position to lead his team to the biggest game of them all. And that deserves some fucking kudos.
New Orleans has got something to prove this year too. The host city's Superdome was designed and built in the late 1970's in the hope that it would regularly host the Superbowl. Sadly in recent years it's served an entirely different purpose. The Big Easy is also understandably pissed off at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for imposing tough sanctions against their franchise, the Saints. Admittedly Goodell was only responding to an illegal and unsporting bounty program that the Saints had in place, but that doesn't mean he'll be welcome at The Jimani.
In the midst of the all the controversy and aggression there's really only reason to tune in on Superbowl Sunday - and it isn't Ms Knowles. Well, maybe a little bit. Puppybowl, people! This fixture of Superbowl programming just gets better every year: last year there was a streaker!, and this year the piglet cheerleaders have been replaced by hedgehogs. HEDGEHOGS!
Oh yeah, and watch the football. It'll be great.
(Hedgehogs.)(Image via Shutterstock)