Monday, February 02, 2015

Good Game

Seattle Seahawks colors at the bar did not result in victory

Sunday was the Super Bowl, the reigning champion of US sporting events (and national TV ratings). The 49th playing (or XLIX for the purists) turned out to be the most-watched TV show in US television history at over 114.4 million households, according to Nielsen.

We were some of those viewers, although not attentive to the whole game. It was lively and very entertaining, basically coming down to the last play to determine the victor. And that last play was memorable, almost universally labeled as a dumb play call of epic proportions by the Seattle Seahawks coach.

I leave such debates on play calls for the media pundits, who are skilled in teasing out the minutiae of events into hours of entertainment-value content to create space for more advertising. But what dawned on me in that moment and the small but ugly brawl in the aftermath was how far from being "just a game" this event had become, perhaps no better symbolized than spectacular Katy Perry halftime show of similarly epic proportions.

Growing up and playing sports, at the end of every game we would shake hands with the opposing team and say, "good game" to each of the opposing players. As a sign of civility, respect and sportsmanship. Back then, many of those shaking hands had dreams of becoming professional athletes themselves, but it was really just playing a game for fun and exercise, like children should do. No doubt you could make out some players at the end of the Super Bowl wishing well to one another in the same way, but the confetti and camera crews did an effective job of drowning it out.

In other words, it was a good game but with a totally different context and meaning that what "good game" should mean.

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