Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not everyone cares about the Super Bowl

It’s Super Bowl week, all everyone is talking about… here in the United States. We Americans seem to forget that there’s the rest of the world out there and not everyone on the planet shares our zest and passion for a football game or Honey Boo Boo.

Last year I watched the Super Bowl in Tauranga. That’s a cute little beach town in New Zealand. I was hoping somebody closer to Los Angeles would invite me to their Super Bowl party but this was best offer I could find.

Seriously, I was on a cruise at the time. (Read all about it here and here.)

It was quite a different experience. First of all, it was “Super Bowl Monday” due to the time change. Secondly, walking around town there was only one bar that was showing it. I asked the owner if he expected a big crowd and he said no.

Fortunately, the ship did made arrangements to show the game live in their theater. So that’s where I and most of the passengers congregated. We watched the international feed. They carried NBC’s coverage, complete with Al Michaels (thank goodness) but not the U.S. commercials. Instead, during commercial breaks we were shown the same three ESPN promos over and over and over. You forget how important those commercials are to the whole Super Bowl experience. And you don’t realize how MUCH time is devoted to those spots. When they’d go to a commercial break you could get up, get something to eat, take a harbor tour of the town, and still get back before the next play.

The thing that struck me most though was the absolute marvel of modern communication. I was watching something that was going on halfway around the world and I was watching it live. It was not long ago when viewers in Hawaii would see network primetime shows one week after they aired in the states. The networks would literally ship them the films of the shows. That’s right, shows were still on film. An editor would splice in the commercials. Our 50th state was one giant SPOILER ALERT.   And now, I had a better view of the game than people who were actually there sitting in the stands. Equally amazing is that when I click “publish” this article will instantaneously be available to readers in Tauranga and everywhere else on the planet (except China and all those countries that block me). And even more remarkable is that some people WILL read it.

Like most folks in America, I will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday. Hope burns eternal that someone will invite me to a party. But for those of you in the rest of the world who have the audacity to not give a shit just because it’s a big deal to us, have a great weekend. I trust you’ll find something to do.

26 comments:

Jim S said...

Ken,

Then you missed Clint Eastwood selling Chryslers. That commercial and the Eminem one the year before for Chrysler show just how powerful a GOOD Super Bowl Commercial can be. Chrysler ran the full commercials exactly once each and Youtube did the rest.

Friday question. You talked about laughter in the writer's room. My question is what was the dumbest argument you ever witnessed. When I say argument, I mean over something dumb like why so and so never wears socks, or the designated hitter rule. Well, come to think of it that one isn't so dumb. I don't mean plot points, but those time wasting arguments people get into when they're stuck in a room.

GFoyle said...

Your post leads to my biggest beef about the Super Bowl - why the hell won't they play it on a Saturday!? It would make for the best nationwide party night of the year! There's a two-week gap after the conference championships anyway. Why must we endure the possibility of Monday work hangovers?

Charles H. Bryan said...

About ten years ago, I was with a group of people in Spain and we stayed up late in some lounge-type room to watch the Oscars. Other Europeans there were not delighted; I think there was a futbol game that they wanted to see. The nerve! Who the hell watches soccer?

Friday question: Why do so many sitcoms feature a character (usually supporting) who is basically an idiot? In many cases a lovable idiot, but an idiot just the same. FRIENDS had two! (Now that I think about it, was anyone on Frasier an idiot? Even the dog? Everybody did the occasional idiotic thing, but it wasn't a lifestyle choice.)

Mike Barer said...

Fraser had a designated "idiot", it was Bulldog.

Rock Golf said...

In Canada, every year is like watching from New Zealand. By law, when an American and Canadian channel broadcast the same show at the same time, cable companies must substitute the American channel with the Canadian "simulcast", including commercials.
Of course, we don't get the US commercials, and usually end up with the same promo clips for upcoming Canadian shows on that channel 20 or 30 times.

The Curmudgeon said...

At least, if I recall correctly, last year's game was a pretty good one. In many of the XLVI Super Bowls to date, the commercials have been the highlights of the broadcast. The year before the dot.com bubble burst had some of the silliest, funniest commercials ever. And all investors had in those companies about a month later was the echo of viewer's laughter....

J. Allison said...

Ken, if you feel like heading down to the unfashionable southeast portion of Los Angeles County you're welcome to come to our Super Bowl party here in La Habra Heights :)

VP81955 said...

For the past few years, I have followed the Super Bowl on radio. No overblown commercials; no incessant shots of quarterback reactions when they have no inherent connection to the play or aren't even in the game. (The overemphasis on QBs is designed to connect casual fans to the game, particularly women. Forgive my sexism.) It's not a football game anymore, but a corporate celebration, more than the World Series ever was.

To me, listening -- not watching -- the Super Bowl is the last great act of cultural defiance.

Chris G said...

Neither my wife nor I cares about football, so before we had kids, Super Bowl Sunday was a great night for a date. Restaurants were always almost completely empty - you could get seated immediately, the service would be fantastic because the servers were bored out of their skulls otherwise, there was no one else ordering food so it came out the second it was ready, and you could hang out as long as you wanted because there was no one waiting for a table. Good times.

Breadbaker said...

We were in Tauranga two days after Christmas. There might have been college bowl games on somewhere, but we were too interested in the geothermal stuff.

The Milner Coupe said...

I was an apprentice to anchor man Bob Basso at KHON, Honolulu while I was in high school in the seventies. When you say they shipped the shows over to the islands you were right. One of my duties was to make a periodic trip to the airport to pick up the huge film cans and bring them back to the station.

I also had to put up the sports scores on an old fashioned felt menu board with white letters and numbers so they could be superimposed over the stock footage of whatever sport was in season.

I never thought of it before, but the fate of every faithful Sanford & Son, Police Story or Emergency! fan in the islands was in my fifteen year old hands.

Oh, the power I held and didn't know it. Flip Wilson owes me!

H

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm rooting for coach Harbaugh this year.

Jeffro said...

ROG,

Coach Harbaugh retired a few years ago.

But which kid/team will you be rooting for?

Andrew Kamphey said...

Since I work on a Cruise Ship, we almost always have the Super Bowl (from our fancy schmancy satellites) playing. There are only a couple dozen Americans and even of those only one or two enjoy sports so I end up watching alone in my cabin or since I work here... I might have to work during the Super Bowl.

chuckcd said...

Ken, I will read anything you do.
I'm hoping you write another sitcom someday...

MikeBo said...

"Not everyone cares about the Super Bowl," Ken Levine.

Ken I used to think that way until I married into a northern California family that worships the '9ers." On game day they are wear 49ers apparel and rub various SF 49ers memorabilia for good luck. Even the shrine to Our Lady of Guadelupe now sports a figurine of Joe Montana surrounded by votive candles. It was like marrying a polish girl and following her home to the old country. It took me a while to learn the language, but now I'm as rabid a convert to 49ers fandom as John Walker Lindh is to the Taliban. And this year the opposing coaches are the Brothers Harbaugh - Cain and Abel. Rock on!

D. McEwan said...

Yup, not everyone cares about the Superbowl, like me for instance. Never seen one; never will. But you folks that like it for some reason enjoy it. I'll be watching other stuff.

benson said...

@Mike Bo

The Lindh analogy was brilliant. Since I just watched the 30 Rock finale, it was worthy of something that show would write/say.

Ron said...

I loved watching football for the year I was in London. So few ads during the game. At game breaks they would have this British football writer and a big black host (a James Brown knock off) and some random guest for the games. The random guest might be a guy who played for Coventry in the old NFL Europe or it might be Mike Holmgren (the week of the London game). Watching the Super Bowl starting at 11:30pm though I really didn't care about the ads, you can watch those on youtube. Still I think the British got it right rugby is a far superior game.

Barry Traylor said...

What in the world is a superbowl?

Anonymous said...

For those of you who enjoy watching (what US citizens call) football, I encourage you to remember that many, if not most, of the players you enjoy watching will be getting permanent brain damage for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy,

Alan Tomlinson

fionafire said...

I didn't even know the super bowl was this weekend. That's how much I care.

YEKIMI said...

Didn't grow up with American football, never watched a Stupid Bowl game in my life. Now Soccer [what is known as the REAL football], I'll watch that anytime of the day or night....almost got a chance to go to the 2010 World Cup games in Africa.....but my sanity kicked back in after seeing how much they wanted for tickets, etc.

Unknown said...

Heh, I was watching the game this time last year in Sydney. I couldn't watch it "live" (I was there for work) and had to watch the replay that evening... I had to warn all my co workers "NO SPOILERS" throughout the day so I could watch it "untainted."

NFL games on Australian TV are funny. The major sports channels (there are four or five) show every Rugby and Cricket game they can, but when it comes to the NFL... they show two games a week. That's it. And they usually aren't even "big" games (saw lots of Giants games while I was there).

Even funnier is the fact that they EDIT THE GAMES. That's right, if there's a boring series or quarter, they cut it out so the game will fit in the time scheduled (usually two hours). The first time I saw it happen I thought I had accidentally hit the fast-forward button... And yes, they even edited the Super Bowl when the showed it on Monday night.

Thanks for this blog, big fan!

Dan said...

As a Brit, I wish they would run it on a Saturday as well. As it stands we have to watch the game at midnight which isn't really practical. I also wish we could get a direct stream from America so that we got to experience it the same way you guys do.

Mike said...

Unbelievable. You visit New Zealand, where Rugby is the national religion, home of the world's greatest Rugby team, and you ask to see the Synchronised Mincing contest. Was this a NailBar you asked in?
Bartender: "Baseball? Over here it's called Rounders and only girls play it. Basketball? Over here it's called Netball and only girls play it. Would you like that sarsaparilla in a dirty glass?"