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Will it be Super?

Maybe the game will be super and maybe it won't.

Maybe it doesn't matter. The occasion long ago transcended the game.

People who don't know a sack from a spot go to Super Bowl parties. Citizens who have to tap a fellow reveler on the shoulder and ask again what "point spread" means bet on the game.

Whole books — silly books, but whole books, nevertheless — have been written on the ads that have aired during the broadcast of the Super Bowl.

The extravaganza represents the most spectacular triumph of sales ever accomplished by an aggregation of suits marketing an athletic event.

At its most popular, the World Series never inspired mass World Series parties, and lots of people still prefer their baseball on the radio.

The NCAA basketball tournament features enthusiastic gambling and lots of sports writers will tell you they'd rather attend the final four than any other athletic mega-occasion, but it's an indoor event. You can't fly screaming jets directly over its crowd, and unlike a football field, a basketball court is not big enough for staging a pageant so colossal that it will temporarily cause at least those of its roaring appreciators who haven't already lost a lot of money to forget that one team's up twenty seven points at the half.

A very convincing argument can be made that the World Cup is a much bigger deal than the Super Bowl, but it is a rational argument and it depends on acknowledging the world beyond the borders of the United States. Reason and the recognition that the rest of the world is a complicated place where "football" means the game we call soccer have no place in a discussion of the Super Bowl in 2007.

That is the triumph of those who sell us the game that has become a signature event in our popular culture, an explosion of excess so monstrous that it often even intimidates and distracts the players, many of whom wander through the week before the Super Bowl filming each other.

Will we watch it? It may not matter. The Super Bowl is in us and of us, airborne, inescapable.

This program aired on January 31, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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