The Privilege of Being Super

By on February 5, 2016

The sports party of the year is finally here!

I’m not talking about the Latin American Table Tennis Championships or the Junior Luge International, both relevant athletic events taking place Feb. 7. I’m talking NFL football, the supreme false god of Sundays for six months of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Zhang Jike, reigning Olympic ping-pong king, in a Cam Newton jersey this week.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, or even if you like football. Most of us will be watching Super Bowl 50, or at least munching on nachos at a Super Bowl party, when the titanic bout between young Newton and elder statesman Peyton Manning kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

It’s more than just a game. It’s modern American culture defined in one evening of elite competition between insanely wealthy athletes, lavishly-produced yet often disappointing TV commercials, excessive gambling, and a gluttonous indulgence of meatball sliders, deviled eggs and beer that ultimately leads to one of the most unproductive Mondays of the year.

It’s everything I love and hate about the world we live in, neatly packaged for our enjoyment. I wouldn’t miss it.

The zenith of the pro football season is elevated further when one of our local teams gets to the finals. Unfortunately, there will be no PA in CA this year. The Eagles chances ended last March when they disrespectfully kicked Shady McCoy to the curb, and the Steelers were just too injury-plagued to make it through the playoffs. Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger will be among the masses on Sunday, watching from home.

Last year’s Super Bowl drew more than 114 million viewers, making it the most watched event in American TV history. In fact, the last eight Super Bowls are also the top eight TV events in terms of viewership.

For those keeping score, the most watched TV moment other than a Super Bowl was the final episode of M.A.S.H., witnessed by just under 106 million people 33 years ago this month. Other big TV finales include Cheers (84.4 million), The Fugitive (78), Seinfeld (76.3), Friends (52.5), Magnum P.I. (50.7), The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (50), The Cosby Show (44.4), All In The Family (40.2), Family Ties (36.3) … and Gossip Girl (1.42).

If you’re looking to avoid the ratings game, there are still a few tickets left for the actual Super Bowl. You can see it live in sunny Santa Clara, as long as you have at least $3,150. That’s for one ticket in the nose-bleed section. If you want to sit down by the field, tickets cost as much as $15,000 each.

Who is going to this game? Do people with this kind of expendable cash exist?

The Super Bowl is the most popular event in America, and 99 percent of its 323,162,534 population cannot afford to attend. That means 319,930,908.66 of us will have to watch it in the comfort of our own living rooms due to financial difficulty. We’ll miss out on that cherished memory of sitting in the upper section of Levi’s Stadium and staring at the Jumbotron with a $12 Bud Light in one hand and an $8 hot dog in the other. The cheapest thing on last year’s Super Bowl concessions menu was a side of cheese for $2.

“I’ll have a side of cheese and 10 ketchup packets, please.”

It’s the Super Bowl, so I’ll assume it’s Fancy Ketchup.

So, while one percent of America spends thousands of dollars to watch Manning ($17 million salary) throw to Demaryius Thomas ($14 million), and Newton ($20.76 million) to Greg Olsen ($7.5 million), the average American making an average household income of $53,657 (2014 Census Bureau statistic) will stay close to home and collectively spend in the neighborhood of $14.3 billion (based on a consumer spending survey conducted prior to last year’s game) on Doritos, new flat screens, and Graham Gano jerseys (and other similar party needs).

That’s some interesting math that clearly illustrates the power of the 99 percent in the rare circumstance of common cause. We can’t seem to muster such an effort for something like a presidential election, but we can definitely step up for a party.

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express. He is also a Dallas Cowboys fan and perennial loser in his fantasy football league. He welcomes words of encouragement at sseeber.eph@lnpnews.com.

 

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