When NFL owners voted on Tuesday to hold the 2014 Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., it signaled a climatic paradigm shift for the sport’s biggest game.
It also signaled stupidity.
By and large, it appears that the decision is being met favorably.
“Football is a game of the elements,” the large number of proponents say. “It is just going to make the experience more memorable!”
I get it. Some of the league’s trademark moments have transpired in inclement weather.
The Ice Bowl. The Tuck Rule Game. Brett Favre’s Last Game in a Packer Uniform When He Threw That Idiotic Interception, Ultimately Propelling the Giants to Immortality.
And yes, all of those were great games. However, none of them was a Super Bowl—they all occurred when home-field advantage was still in play.
But since the first NFL-AFL championship, the league has consciously chosen to hand-pick the stage for the contest.
And as such, why wouldn’t it try to select venues that are likely to offer fair weather?
While it’s true that bad weather can happen anywhere, anytime (like, for instance, in Miami for Super Bowl XLI between the Colts and Bears), it is also true that by trending south, the league increases the likelihood that weather will not be a factor.
Moreover, it is not just Sunday that is at issue here.
The Super Bowl has become one of the biggest events in the world—an affair that transcends sports and lasts all week.
By granting New York-New Jersey the game, the NFL is not only damning its fans to a day of frigid misery, it’s giving them a whole week of it.
Let’s see. If I’m taking a week in February to enjoy the Super Bowl festivities, would I prefer to sit pool-side in Miami or waddle around in 12 layers in New York?
As long as the league favors a hand-picked location in putting on its decisive match, it is simply common sense to choose warm-climate locations.
Sure, the game has been held in Detroit and Minneapolis and will be in Indianapolis in 2012 (if the purported apocalypse is averted), but obviously those are all dome locations where the game conditions are controllable. Plus, I’m guessing the week leading up to those games stunk.
Just because the league has done it, doesn’t mean it was a good idea.
Look, I grew up in northeast Wisconsin, so I grasp the allure of cold weather games. However, I also understand that in all of those memorable battles on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field, the Packers held a distinct advantage over any team from south of the Mason-Dixie line.
With Tuesday’s decision, that same advantage (albeit not as pronounced) will be conferred to any cold-weather team that reaches the 2014 Super Bowl.
Worst of all, though, is that this selection opens the floodgates.
Although the league says this is an experimental exception to reward the Giants and Jets for their $1.6 billion stadium, other cold-climate organizations are already lining up and clamoring for their own Super Bowl bid.
I’m sorry, but a Buffalo or New England Super Bowl does not strike me as appealing.
Now, maybe the game will end up being fantastic, the week will go off without a hitch, and I will stand corrected. Like I said, as a Wisconsinite, I can personally relate to the positives inherent in a bad-weather matchup.
Yet unless the NFL wants to shift to a home-field system for the Super Bowl, it seems only logical to for it to do what it can to provide a fair and warm environment for its biggest game—and, most importantly, its legion of fans.