I know it’s hard to believe, but there actually are a few people who won’t be watching Super Bowl LXVIII, a game played by Roman senators in togas who argue about the declension of Latin nouns. No, I mean padded beefers who don’t have what it takes to play rugby.
Anyway, if you’re among those sorry few Americans who won’t be among more than 100 million people in 198 countries watching the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos battle for the sterling silver Vince Lombardi Trophy, there’s another competition that may be more to your liking.
It’s sure to be a major dose of cuteness overload, not to mention far less pretentious than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Scrappy with the potential for high-speed collisions and maybe even biting, but with fewer of those concussions that make football so worrisome. “Accidents” in the end zone, maybe, but none of those boastful touchdown displays.
As touted by Animal Planet, “Puppy Bowl returns for its tenth consecutive year with an all-star, all-adorable cast that's ready to mix it up on the grand gridiron of Animal Planet Stadium. Puppy Bowl X brings viewers a loveable lineup that's itching to play in a winning combination of terrier tackles, touchdowns, puppy penalties, fumbles and Fido first downs.”
As if that were not enough excitement, “back for another year is the popular Bissel Kitten Halftime Show, guaranteed to bring the house down! And, sideline reporter "Meep the Bird" will return to tweet live updates throughout the game.”
Last year, more than 12 million viewers tuned in during multiple airings.
Puppies gather on the field, eager to be the first to grab a plush football or other toy, then run into the end zone with the others in hot pursuit.
Some 60 dogs from 30 animal shelters and rescue groups around the country participate. Officiating is New York actor and TV announcer Dan Schachner.
“I have the best job in the world,” he told American Profile magazine. “You have to love dogs, but you also have to be fearless. And you can’t be afraid to pick up poop.”
Among the starting lineup:
Twelve week-old Labrador Retriever/Sato mix Artemis, who “goes nuts for cat videos.”
Bernese Mountain Dog/Poodle mix Bach (14 weeks), who “thinks Mozart is overrated.”
Spaniel Cody (12 weeks), who “thinks fatherhood has mellowed Kanye.”
Bassett Hound Lily (13 weeks), who “tries not to step on her own ears.”
Siberian Husky Suri (14 weeks), who thinks “they should cut Miley Cyrus some slack.”
Nobody keeps score, but an MVP is named. (That's "Most Valuable Puppy.") If prior years are a guide, all will be quickly adopted from their shelters or rescue organizations. The fundamental principle is to encourage adoption of shelter animals.
My rascally Welsh corgi brothers Dodger and Dylan would be perfect competitors. They go tennis ball-nuts at the dog park. They’ll be tuning in here to offer commentary on the Puppy Bowl.
Trib Total Media in Pennsylvania notes other alternate Super Bowl programming:
The Kitten Bowl: This new, competing bowl airs from noon to 3 p.m. on Hallmark channel and then runs in repeats until midnight.
The Fish Bowl: Goldie the goldfish will entertain in “Fish Bowl I” from 6 to 10 p.m. on Nat Geo Wild, then starting all over again, at 10 p.m.
The Toilet Bowl: The “King of Thrones” series on Destination America refurbishes dull-and-dingy bathrooms. Among the creations: a porta-potty for ice-fishing purposes. Catch it from noon-3 p.m.