A souped-up Super Bowl is just what we want

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Pretty much everyone, save those inexplicably warped, is enormously grateful to have the Super Bowl over and done with.

It is, goes the grousing, arguably the most overhyped, overreported, overdone, overeverythinged event that we have, including that hit play, "Monica Meets Bill and Trouble Ensues." Worse, the Super Bowl, unlike Monica and Bill, occurs every year. We cannot escape it, no matter how hard we try.

It is excessive at every turn. To put the word "tasteful" in the same sentence with Super Bowl is the ultimate contradiction in terms.

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Right?

Nope, nope, nope. Not true. None of it. So stop saying it. You probably only heard about it from your breathless local TV folks, anyway, who can't believe they saw an alligator not in a zoo.

The truth is the Super Bowl is America's premier event of any stripe, this year and every year. It is not excessive. Rather, it is us.

Therefore, the attention paid to it is just about right.

Our culture is that we are an excessive people about all kinds of things.

We've greatly harmed our national parks because too many of us want to visit them. We've tarnished Christmas enormously because we buy in to its commercialism. We've tremendously scarred many of the best and most scenic places to live in our land because too many of us pick them.

We hopelessly jam great restaurants so, as Yogi Berra said about one of his favorites, "Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded." Sometimes we love things to death, and then often, discard them, like hula hoops and pet rocks.

We will never discard the Super Bowl. It defines us. Americans historically aspire to excellence and to standing alone on the top of the hill. As morality and rules change at dreadful speed, many still covet old virtues like discipline, toughness, and creativity. We all understand how easy it is to fail and how hard it is to succeed. All of this is what the Super Bowl is all about and why we squeeze it to death.

After all, more than 800 million people watched this year's game on television. Radio sent its signal to 400 stations, plus the Armed Forces Radio Network. Advertisers paid $1.6 million for 30 seconds on the broadcast.

Sounds like a lot of affection, doesn't it?

It is true, of course, that excessiveness does breed silliness.

One beverage manufacturer issued a press release - everybody issues press releases in avalanche proportions at the Super Bowl in hope of fascinating some of the 3,000 media folks - that was fascinating. It said its survey showed 32.1 percent of the respondents would prefer participating in the game by pouring ice water on the winning coach rather than by being the starting quarterback (14.8 percent).

Three Canadian women produced a CD-ROM to teach women about football. Paula Abdul also was in town to teach football to women. Apparently none of the football professors was board certified.

Cher talked trashy at her press conference, rendering unusable a lot of videotape. The gathering was called, of all things, to find out how she felt about singing the National Anthem. She seemed to want to. And she did, adequately.

If it could be sold or championed, it was here.

R&B singer Isaac Hayes was in south Florida to chat up his literacy for children program. The Federal Aviation Administration had a press conference to explain its aircraft-control procedures over the stadium. Dennis Rodman was seen everywhere except on a basketball court.

Gene Simmons of the musical group KISS was at a press conference - the group performed before the game - and he became increasingly agitated at the tameness of the gathering and the decorous questions.

"What are you guys?" he finally asked in exasperation. "From The Christian Science Monitor?"

The point is, all this is the fabric of our lives. The chaos and the disconnects - what did a sporting clays shootout have to do with the Super Bowl? - are what we want. If we didn't, they wouldn't exist. Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy wouldn't be here if nobody watched.

So now that we all agree that the hoopla over the Super Bowl is exactly what we want, go forth and spread the word. Rope in those naysayers who know not what they object to. Our goal: Make next year's Super Bowl in Atlanta bigger, brassier, and more over the top.

It's a worthy quest. The only sorrow is that it's almost 12 months before we get to do this again.

*Please send your comments to looneyd@csps.com

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