A super Super Bowl
Scripps Howard News Service
The Super Bowl has come and gone. Reports tell us it was the third most widely witnessed event in American TV history, beaten only by two other Super Bowls. In this land of ours, the game has become as big a celebratory deal as just about anything from the Fourth of July to New Year's Eve. It features a physically tough sport. It is enmeshed in commercialism. Is all this OK?
We think so, with a caveat to come.
In fact, we think the whole affair -- patriotic prelude, the football game itself, crowd fervor, technological wizardry, an advertising onslaught, the half-time extravaganza and more -- speaks to a remarkable American energy, even a certain joyfulness.
The evening's viewing may be mostly a dodge of life's unpleasant stuff, but so is attendance of a classic music concert or getting lost in a good novel. Such reprieves can be blessedly healthy.
And the frivolity did have touches of unifying seriousness, the most moving of which was the wondrous singing of "America the Beautiful" by a chorus of 26 children from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In the game, Baltimore soared ahead, San Francisco roared back and the outcome was decided by a last-minute play that could easily have gone either way.
There was a tech blot on the game, a lights-out stretch when you kept asking yourself whether America had really come to this -- a power outage during the Super Bowl? But the TV technology we now take for granted is amazing.
Maybe a few of the Super Bowl TV commercials fell short of super, but many were delightfully imaginative, brilliantly executed, captivating -- a kind of art.
Something like 108 million people watched this game, some of them fiercely loyal to one team or the other, but there's a sense in which we Americans are more together than apart on Super Bowl day, and this year the togetherness was symbolized by a rather extraordinary circumstance: The coaches of the two opposing teams are brothers.
Football does have a problem in lasting brain injuries, and this must be fixed for the future. We bet they'll fix it.