Why the Super Bowl Is Vastly Overrated

Eric FelkeyAnalyst IFebruary 3, 2010

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 30:  The Vince Lombardi Trophy is seen during the NFC Head coach press conference prior to Super Bowl XLIII held at the Tampa Convention Center on January 30, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I've wanted to write a new article for a few weeks now, but inspiration just hadn't struck me. Even the dominance of the Cavs and the re-emergence of Evan Turner and the Ohio State basketball team couldn't get a couple hundred words out of me.

So last week, tired of slogging through different websites to find entertainment, I flipped on ESPN to see what else was going on in the world of sports. The topic? An NFL Live discussion/analysis of Super Bowl XLIV.

Fair enough. So I switch to ESPN2, only to find Skip Bayless screaming at the top of his lungs on First Take. I think it had something to do with how great Peyton Manning is, but I couldn't understand anything since my ears were filling with blood.

So then I go to ESPN News. There are three guys on screen elaborating on the fact that it's New Orleans' first Super Bowl appearance in 43 years (really?!? I didn't know). Then there's breaking news: We go live to someone who's standing on a deserted practice field, basically telling us that there is no further update on Dwight Freeney's ankle injury.

Ok, maybe it was a slow news day. It was the middle of the afternoon, not a lot is going on, so why not discuss the so-called biggest sporting event of the year?

I tried again Saturday night, figuring a slate of NBA and NHL games, two showdowns between top-15 college teams, the hot topic that is baseball free agency, or some MMA action would be prevalently displayed on SportsCenter .

Nope! Maybe 40 percent of the hour was dedicated to the aforementioned topics. I'll let you figure out what the rest of the show was about.

It's not just ESPN; FoxSports, CBSSports, Yahoo!, all of these media giants are vehemently beating any Super Bowl related topic into the ground.

It was then that I realized that, unless Super Bowl XLIV is hands-down the greatest, most entertaining, most captivating football game ever played, it's not worth the hype that the pundits proclaim.

Hence, it's overrated.

Everything about it is overrated. The game, the hype, the pregame shows, the long, painfully drawn out halftime performance, the post-game analysis, the trophy presentation...everything about it is completely over-the-top.

Please, allow me to further explain...


The Game

Everyone generally assumes that, since the two best teams are playing in the biggest professional game of the season, it naturally will be a close, entertaining game, right?

Not the case. Nineteen games have been decided by more than two touchdowns. The average margin of victory in each Super Bowl is nearly 15 points—not exactly the epitome of a neck-and-neck game.

Only 14 of the 43 Super Bowls have been decided by seven points or less. And it's not like these games were all well played and exciting.

Super Bowl V (Baltimore vs. Dallas) was decided by three points. Dallas had 215 yards of total offense, 133 penalty yards, and four turnovers. Baltimore had seven turnovers...and still won the game.

Doesn't exactly sound like an aesthetically pleasing affair.

Super Bowl VII (Miami vs. Washington) had a close score, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt. The same can be said for Super Bowl XVI (San Francisco vs. Cincinnati).

Or how about Super Bowl XXXIX between the Patriots and Eagles? A three-point game. Philly has the ball in the final seconds with a chance to tie or win. Sounds intriguing, right?


The Eagles turned the ball over four times. Neither offense really lit up the field. New England led by 10 with less than six minutes to go, and Philly played with no urgency down the stretch. They had the ball deep in their own territory as the clock was running out; they would have needed a miracle of epic proportions to pull off the win, or even a tie.

I will admit that in the last 10 years, the quality of play has increased. As a result, the games are closer—six games have been decided by seven points or less, with four games being decided in the final seconds.

But still, by my count, only nine Super Bowls out of 43 (about 20 percent) have lived up to their expectations (SBs XIII, XXIII, XXV, XXXII, XXXIV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XLII,XLIII).

If one out of every five Super Bowls is provocative and memorable, I call that overrated.


The Hype

I could never understand the hype and the media circus that surrounds the Super Bowl.

I consider myself an average football fan. I'm not an idiot when it comes to the game, but I couldn't hold my own analyzing each play or picking up subtle nuances that occur in pre-snap formations.

So why in the world do we need hours and hours of NFL LiveInside the NFL , or whatever show constantly breaking down game footage and giving us a plethora of "inside" information on both teams, a majority of which won't be useful?

Does the average fan really consume all of this?

Does any sports fan really care about the repetitive, asinine questions players get asked during media week?

Hell, is even a die-hard NFL fan really enraptured by the hundreds and hundreds of hours wasted by various sports networks trying to break down every snap made by the Colts and Saints?

A perfect example of the overly exaggerated hype: As I'm typing this, I've got the Michigan State-Wisconsin game on. A SportsCenter promo detailed (what else?) some Super Bowl coverage coming up at 11. One of the taglines was, "How many times did Dwight Freeney have to answer the same question at media day?"

Thank you for proving my point, ESPN.

I'm not sure we grasp the magnitude of this hype. To me, it's mind-boggling. The Super Bowl probably gets more attention in a 14-day span than politics do in the weeks leading up to a presidential election.

ESPN will kick off their live coverage from Miami on Super Bowl Sunday at 10 a.m. Ummm, the game still starts after 6 p.m., right? What could we possibly learn in that eight hours that hasn't been drilled in our heads in the last two weeks?

CBS's coverage will start at 2 p.m. That's four-plus hours of the same storylines, the same analysis, the same predictions, and the same coverage that we've already seen.

I bet you're probably getting pretty tired of me going on and on about the same things that are flawed with the Super Bowl, right? Well, that in a nutshell is the two-week coverage leading up the Super Bowl—the same concepts over and over and over again.



The Commercials

Really? We're supposed to be excited about a game because there might be some funny commercials?

The commercials are just like the games—maybe one out of every five is memorable. The rest are a waste of my time.



The Halftime Show

Same deal as the commercials. I'm supposed to get pumped up about a thirty minute halftime show featuring artists or bands that are 20 years passed their prime?

I've never had a vested interest in the Super Bowl, but if I did, I couldn't imagine how I would be feeling during halftime. I'd go stir-crazy; just get the damn game going again.


The Storylines

Every year, the media picks one story and runs away with it, thinking, "Hey, America won't get sick of hearing this story 14,573 times"

Did you know that Kurt Warner was bagging groceries just months ago, and now he's the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl?!? (SB XXXIV)

Did you know that Tom Brady wasn't even the starter for New England at the beginning of the year, and now he's the Patriots starting quarterback?!? (SB XXXVI)

Did you know that Jon Gruden used to coach the Raiders, but he left for Tampa Bay, and now he's facing his old team?!? (SB XXXVII)

Did you know that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit, which is where the game is being played this year?!? (SB XL)

Did you know that Peyton Manning's father, Archie Manning, is widely regarded as the best player in Saints history; so who is he going to root for?!? (SB XLIV)

Enough! It's the same boring, unoriginal, drawn out storylines every year.

If the media is trying to find angles to promote, why not find some fun, imaginative stories to tackle? Something like, "Peyton Manning grew up in Louisiana, but he was a big Cowboys fan. He hated the Saints, and he can't wait to stick it to them on Sunday!"

At least it's something . Something fresh, something new, something that people would be eager to talk about.

Anything is better than what we're being served.

I understand why some people think this is the best time of the year. If I were a Colts or Saints fan, I would soak up every minute and enjoy the ride.

That could very well be the reason why I view this two-week charade as overrated. As a Browns fan, I've never gotten to experience anything that's related to the Super Bowl.

Couple that with the fact that the team I loathe and despise more than almost anything in the world (Pittsburgh) has the most Super Bowl titles, and perhaps you can understand why I see the Super Bowl in a different light than most people.

You might think I'm crazy. I just know that, for me, hours and hours of mindless, tedious coverage, commercials that are rarely entertaining, a halftime performance that's twenty minutes too long, and a game that's not often exciting isn't worth the hype.