Bowl games

By the time you read this, you will know either my despair or great joy.

Because of logistical matters beyond the ability of average mortals to comprehend, this newspaper went to press before that most important matter facing this great country of ours was settled, before the mighty clash of personalities was resolved, before we knew who was guilty of unabashed partisan teamwork, before we knew about the future path of national affairs.

Who won the Super Bowl?

With that precious piece of knowledge, you have the ingredients to determine matters of great import to the financial health of nations and retirement plans everywhere.

As I write, I have no idea whether my beloved Denver Broncos plucked the Atlanta Falcons from their serendipitous space in the spotlight, or whether the mighty Broncos was rode hard then put away wet (as we used to say out there in the high country).

This is not some ill-disguised bid for the cushy career of a sportswriter ("How was work today, dear?" "Really tough, honey. I had to fly to Miami in January to watch the Super Bowl, and the chips in the press box were stale.") And, in a minute, we'll reveal the true standing of the Super Bowl in national affairs.

But first, check out Jim Tyson's story to the right. The headline should be: "Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it has."

Talk about financial well-being. Oil prices are low, expected to stay that way, and they affect just about everything under your roof (toothpaste, CDs, eyeliner, to say nothing of that monster Ford Expedition lounging in the garage).

Gasoline prices, alone, offer a nifty, end-of-millennium bonus, but they're coupled to an American economy that's locked into four-wheel-drive, pedal to the metal. Full speed ahead, with no obstacle capable of sending it into a rut.

And it is that economy - with its ability to both go for the long pass, generate short yardage, and keep a global crisis from blitzing the quarterback - that brings us to the relevance of the Super Bowl.

Tradition says that if a team that belonged to the old National Football Conference wins the Super Bowl, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will go up that year.

If a team from the old American Football League (AFL) wins, the Dow dips and vice versa.

It sounds spurious, but it works (87.5 percent of the time), except when my beloved Broncos take the field. Of the four times this formula has fumbled, three involved AFL veteran Denver.

Last year, Mr. Elway led the team to its rightful moment of glory with a 31-24 victory over Green Bay, but the Dow finished up with a kick, 16.1 percent.

In 1990, the Broncos lost to San Francisco by a hair, 55-10, but the stock market fell 4.34 percent.

In 1978, the Dallas Cowboys rode the Broncos to a 27-10 loss and the Dow dropped about 8 percent.

I don't know why this happens, so don't ask (words a sportswriter would never utter).

But here's what I do know from Jim Tyson's other oil story, on page 13. Regardless of football fortunes, oil prices will eventually go up - maybe next year or the year after - and the shares of oil companies are cheap. People will probably look back on this time as a moment of opportunity.

*E-mail mccormickl@csps.com

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