Where once we reminisced about Super Bowls involving Joe Namath, Larry Csonka and Mean Joe Greene, their memories are of Prince, Aerosmith and Janet Jackson’s nipple. Where once we considered the Super Bowl a good reason to get together and eat unhealthy food, now it’s merely the excuse for them to get together and eat unhealthy food.
But time marches on, although not necessarily in the right direction.
In the beginning, the Super Bowl wasn’t even the Super Bowl; it was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game until the National Football League started adding Roman numerals, a distinction previously reserved for popes and world wars.
Tickets for the not-yet Super Bowl in 1967 were $12, $10 and $6 and the game was viewed in person by 33,000 empty seats. Now the game’s fan base has been bought out by the country club and expense account set. Because this year every seat sold out long ago and the average ticket price on the secondary market reached $9,300.
That first game’s halftime entertainment in Los Angeles consisted mainly of college marching bands, although 10,000 balloons and 300 pigeons were released for added excitement. But bands, birds and balloons no longer satisfy a generation that expect its sports events to include blaring music, blazing pyrotechnics and buxom cheerleaders.
At home, 49 million of us huddled around 21-inch screens to cheer for long passes, dazzling runs and crushing tackles in that game between Kansas City and Green Bay. The only time we talked or looked away from the screens was between plays, during commercials or at halftime for bathroom breaks.
This year, 200 million will gather around their 65-inch QLED’s or go to Super Bowl parties to gab and take their bathroom breaks during the plays. They’ll only look at the screen to watch corporations peddle beer, cars and Hellman’s mayonnaise, or to see Taylor Swift cheering for Travis Kelce. And at halftime to watch Usher perform and Taylor Swift cheering for Joe Biden.
And next week, I expect, they’ll all be talking about Usher, Taylor and Hellman’s mayonnaise.
We real football fans and grumpy old men, meanwhile, will be talking about . . . football.
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