The Big Game is mere hours away and my enthusiasm level is at an all-time low. You might even say it’s bordering on non-existent.
This year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks is one that has been overwhelmed with controversy and ill will. The anticipation I normally feel around this time of year has been replaced by a resounding feeling of meh.
And I’m not alone. Usually the week leading to Super Bowl Sunday is abuzz with talk of parties or the best bar to watch it or who has the biggest TV. This year whenever I asked someone about the game I was met with shrugged shoulders and a shake of the head. A simple perusal of Facebook or Twitter and you will find dozens, if not hundreds, or people apathetic or outright hostile toward the game. When I asked a good friend what he was doing this weekend he said, “If I watch the game I’ll probably just stay home.”
Look at the key word in that sentence – if – “if” I watch the game. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard someone say that. Sure you may not like the teams playing, but the viewing of the game was never called into question. This year is very different.
Oh you’re just bitter, I can hear you saying, your team isn’t playing and this is all just sour grapes. Okay, fair enough, it’s a valid point. Yes, my team isn’t represented in the Super Bowl and that always dampens my enthusiasm. But to be fair my team is not represented roughly 99% of the time and I always watch the game with excitement and revelry. If nothing else you can pick the team you hate the least and root against the other guy. This year picking the lesser of two evils is a lot more difficult than ever before.
Suffice to say if you are not living in the Seattle or Boston areas you’re probably having a really hard time choosing a team to dislike the least. Why is that?
The New England Patriots are involved in another cheating controversy. This time it’s about deflating the balls in the AFC Championship game to make the balls easier to grip and throw in bad weather. There is no real evidence of this other than hearsay and a wildly lopsided score. Had this been the first time the team was accused of cheating it would probably be dismissed out of hand. It is not the first time.
The Patriots have been accused of cheating on multiple occasions and have been officially caught once. Back in 2007 the team was found to be taping the opposing team’s defense and was fined and lost draft picks. Right or wrong, fairly or unfairly the New England Patriots are perceived as cheaters. No one wants to pull for a cheater.
The star running back for the Seattle Seahawks has had a, let’s say difficult time, with the press all season and this week it reached a fever pitch. He was outright dismissive, rude and disrespectful and generally acting like an ass. Okay, we get it. You don’t like giving press conferences. But you know what? It’s your job and you get paid millions of dollars to do it. There are plenty of things I don’t like doing but that doesn’t mean I get to act like a child. It’s not hard to be a nice person.
The thing is Lynch is just the most vocal member of the team. There are several other players on the Seahawks who are just as nasty and disrespectful; including the head coach. Right or wrong, fairly or unfairly the Seattle Seahawks are perceived as a bunch of petulant bullies. And no one wants to pull for a group of jerks.
And that’s not all…
From the very start of the NFL season there have been accusations of child abuse and spousal abuse. There have been drug arrests and assault charges; steroid use and questionable tactics. To a certain extent things like this have happened every season, but this year seems to have an overwhelming number of incidents. Couple that with a league that seems to put profits over fans and you have an entire season that just was a little bit off.
Look, it’s just a game. In the long run tonight’s outcome will have zero impact on our lives. It will effect absolutely nothing. There will be a parade in the victorious city and the pundits will go over stats for a week or so but that’s about it. In the end Super Bowl XLIX will just be some trivia and quickly forgotten.
But to many fans of football it seems like the two teams that are represented in the Super Bowl are the ones who cheated and bullied their way to the top. And that just doesn’t garner much respect. It doesn’t produce much enthusiasm. The fact is I will watch the game, we all will; by the billions in fact. And maybe we will put aside the controversies and bad taste and maybe it will be an enjoyable game. But to fans like myself this year just seems a little tainted. The big event just seems a little dimmer, a little less spectacular.
And unfortunately one of these teams is going to have to win.