It all started in 1967, the year I was a senior in high school.  I vaguely remember the discussions about whether it would work to have a playoff between the NFL and the now defunct AFL.  (They merged).  I couldn’t figure out why they were so worried about it’s success.  In baseball the World Series between the American and National Leagues has been a long time success.  Why wouldn’t a “super bowl” also succeed – at least among football fans, and there were clearly enough of those!

They had no idea just HOW successful it would become!

I vaguely remember the first game, but many of the subsequent games were lost on me.  I was not – and still am not – a football fan.  I didn’t give it a second thought during my college years, and don’t remember much about it in the early years of marriage.  However, at some point in the 1980’s, I could see this had become quite a thing.   As non football fans, though, neither Ray nor I ever watched.  In the mid 1980’s, Ray and I were invited to our first Super Bowl party, complete with junk food party snacks, great company, and “the game” on TV.  I remember little about it except that “The Refrigerator”, William Perry was playing.  I think it was 1986, Super Bowl XX.

Another year – I think 1992 – when out in Sun Valley, Idaho with the Long Island East Ski Club, we “took over” a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday when the New York Giants were victorious over Buffalo.  What a raucous night that one was!  It was fun to be with a crowd away from home watching the hometown football team!

Then there was the year the Philadelphia Eagles were there – 2005.  That’s  my childhood home, and I had an interest in it’s outcome.  However – what a bust that was.  They were creamed by the New England Patriots.

As each year passed, “mania” took hold of football and non football fans alike.  The hype during the two weeks prior to the game has become just as important as the game itself.  It costs millions to place an ad on the Super Bowl, but they are unique, made especially for the game, and have become entertainment in their own right, worthy to be watched again on YouTube!  There are polls throughout the internet to vote for the best ad!  The day itself has become sacred with nothing else planned but Super Bowl parties.  Traditions on watching the game have evolved to a “higher level”.  During one game, I went out to pick up a pizza, and did not meet another car either coming our going.  As I drove, I sneaked a peek inside the windows of a few houses as I passed by, and could see groups of people glued to TV’s.

Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday in it’s own right now.  It was never decreed to be such – but it has become that over the 45 years of it’s existence.  In my opinion, it’s far surpassed the interest that the World Series generates!  Ray and I watch now, probably only because of the hype, and an excuse to get out the junk food snacks and call that “dinner”!  It seems odd, however, because it’s the only game I watch all season.  Prior to the game I sort of “decide” who I will root for based upon rather odd and unimportant criteria, because during the actual season, I generally could care less!  This year, for example, I rooted for Pittsburgh because I am from Pennsylvania, although my affinity to them was very weak.  Last year I rooted for the Saints because I loved their traditions (“who dat!”) and it was about time they won!  I often prefer the underdog to win, which is why I don’t have much love for Yankees baseball.

This year the game itself was ok – not a landslide which, to me, becomes boring.  However, the rest was kind of a disappointment.  The ads were only “meh” (except for the Volkswagon ad!).  The half time show, though entertaining, wasn’t “all that”, which may say more about my advanced age than the quality of the show.  The screw up of the National Anthem was just plain embarrassing, and I was embarrassed for her.  In all fairness, I appreciate what nervousness can do to make one forget the words of even the most familiar song.  However, if she hadn’t used all those flourishes with the tune, she might have been more able to focus more on the correct words.

If nothing else, the game provides a means of unification, brief though it probably is.  Instead of focusing on all the political and social angst that seems to plague our nation, the game steals our attention, if only for a moment.  We may root for different teams, but the fun of the game is what brings us together.

It’s over now, and we can put football to bed for another 7 months or so.  (Is it only that long?)  We can now focus on hockey and basketball, and baseball isn’t all that far behind….!

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