Is there a game on TV Sunday?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

Someone mentioned something about a professional football game being played this weekend. Perhaps on a Sunday. Sounds like it might be Super.

You see, over the years, the National Football League has turned the thumbscrews pretty tight on the trademark restrictions against placing the words &uot;Super&uot; and &uot;Bowl&uot; in sequence. That’s what Sunday’s game is called, in case you haven’t heard.

You may have heard references in commercials to &uot;The Big Game,&uot; and other such things.

But Sunday’s game is nothing to be trifled with.

And that goes for what happens on the field, too.

See, this game, like most other football games played on Sundays, is a huge spectator event. There aren’t many of us in these parts who have played professional football, unless your last name is Gillette.

Comedian Bill Cosby once did a stand-up bit in which he said when men brag about how they scored a winning touchdown, they’re lying. Cosby said very few men ever played football.

Fewer still scored a touchdown. Fewer than that ever scored the winning touchdown. And such a small percentage ever played in college, which is a tiny fraction of those who play professionally. So, you see, the competition gets pretty steep the further up the ladder one looks.

But becoming fans? Well, that’s pretty simple, and doesn’t require much blocking and tackling skill, unless you count the run for the on-sale party items in the grocery aisles.

And for Sunday’s annual game, fans come out of the woodwork like bugs in an old building. The most-watched &uot;Super&uot; football game drew more than 144 million viewers, more than twice the number who voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

And Sunday’s game between teams who play their homes games in the vicinity of New York and Boston could be the most watched game ever. Obama or Hillary should get such attention come November.

And with that sort of viewership, naturally, advertisers take notice, and open their checkbooks accordingly.

A 30-second commercial this year is selling for about $3 million. For the cost of a 60-second ad, a school system could hire 120 new teachers at a salary of $50,000 each. OK, that money doesn’t include benefits and other costs related to the new positions, but you get the point.

Sunday’s ads become a show of their own, with Web sites dedicated to fans voting for the top commercials of all time, and sites dedicated to previewing bits of this weekend’s ads. And the networks news programs that very night will most likely contain a sequence of the truly splashy ads aired.

And then there are the &uot;Big Game&uot; parties. Like New Year’s Eve [not trademarked] parties, the events this Sunday are greatly anticipated, yet hardly ever meet our expectations.

This year? Yeah, I guess I’ll watch.

But here’s a fun tidbit as reported by the Associated Press:

For rabid fans of the New York Giants and New England Patriots, this Sunday’s contest won’t be just a game. It may be a health hazard.

Heart attacks and other cardiac emergencies doubled in Munich, Germany, when that nation’s soccer team played in World Cup matches, a new study reports.

While history suggests European soccer fans can get a bit more worked up than the average American football fan, doctors think there are some valid warnings to be shared.

Doctors wrote in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine that they blamed emotional stress for the heart problems, but they note that lack of sleep, overeating, wolfing down junk food, boozing and smoking might have played a role, too.

Ah, what are fans for?

Paul McFarlane is editor of The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is