It is here again. The great American Bacchanalia known as the Super Bowl. We know it must be not only important, but wildly pagan and bloodthirsty because the media won't refer to it as, the 48th Annual Super Bowl. No, we insist on using Roman numerals. Indeed out with the common and in with the Latin. It is Super Bowl XLVIII. The only thing that will be missing Sunday are the players facing the crowd and reciting, Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you.
Well, you can't have everything, although God only knows how many Super Bowl party revelers will be wearing replicas of team jerseys--the 21st century version of the toga.
The estimated viewing audience for this years game is 108 million human beings. That means big bucks, because each and every one of them can buy stuff. In 1967, during the first one of these things, the average ad spot ran $42,000 a pop. The Washington Post reports the median amount spent for a 30 second advertisement tomorrow evening will cost your company, $4 million. That breaks down to $133,000 per second.
The reward for that investment could be substantial. The Wall Street Journal says the stock of publicly traded companies who advertise during the game rises both in the week before kickoff and during the week after. Paying the big bucks doesn't come without a risk though. If you've got just enough cash for one of those 4 million dollar spots and it is scheduled for the last quarter, you'd better get down on your knees and pray to the Good Lord the contest is close. Every stat out there says if the game is a blowout tens of millions of people start looking for reruns of "Law and Order," or "Criminal Minds" shortly after half time.
So, how seriously do we take this nonsense? According to the Wall Street Journal once again, Dr. Bryan Schwartz of the University of New Mexico did a study where he found during the 8 days after the Patriots blew the 2008 game to the Giants, heart related deaths in Massachusetts went up by 24% when compared to same period after previous Super Bowls. In addition the WSJ quoted a consulting firm which estimated, nation wide, the week before the game, employers lose $1.3 billion in wasted work time because everyone in the office is planning partys, organizing and betting in office pools, and generally grousing about who will win, or lose and why.
Beyond the work place and health factors--in Nevada, where betting on events like this is legal, the WSJ says $99 million was wagered on last years game in one way or another. For those of you not familiar with the one way or another, there is not only who wins, but what is called the over/under (the number of total points both teams will score). In addition there are the true betting aficionados who will wager the half time over/under, the per quarter over/under, who wins the opening coin toss, how many field goals will be kicked, and this year, how many times Peyton Manning calls out the word, "Omaha" before each Denver offensive play. In reality those options only scratch the surface, because in Vegas they'll take whatever bet you want to place. If you go into a Las Vegas sports book and put some bucks on how many times the cameras show Peyton's old man, Archie sitting in a luxury suite during the game, they'll take it in a minute. It is estimated world wide, $10 billion will be put at risk on what happens.
Which brings us to how does everyone decide who to put their money on. The Vegas line is Broncos minus 2 and a half. In other words, if you wager on Denver they must win by at least three points or you lose. The guys out in the Nevada desert are pros, they make their living doing things like this. In theory you should be paying attention to them. The problem is the Vegas numbers will move up or down, depending on where the action is. If everyone is taking Denver the line will go up. If everyone is betting on Seattle it will go down.This being the internet though, a couple of different theories are afloat. First is a nine year old episode of the cartoon show, "The Simpsons" which predicts a Denver win by 5 points. The second is based on an orangutan in the Salt Lake City zoo named Eli. He has successfully predicted the winner for the last 8 years in a row by knocking around one of two styrofoam replica helmets of the competing teams. He has gone with Seattle.
Think about it, why not believe him? After all, Caligula made his horse a member of the Roman Senate, so why can't millions, if not billions of dollars change hands because of the capriciousness of some caged beast in Utah?
It makes perfect sense given what this country has and hasn't become, especially when you consider all the wild hoopla and high stakes corporate wagers which accompanies the current dementia and festivities.
In the end, after careful consideration, I'm ready to make my decision. Look, I've never said I'm without sin, or not part of the problem. That's right, I was born and bred here--and--I'm going with the fucking ape. Put me down for a C-note on Seattle. Hey, the monkey is on a hot streak. And--if we know anything--you ride a hot streak to the flaming finish.
It is, The American Way.
sic vita est