While the northeast braved a blizzard on Tuesday, Phoenix, Arizona braved a storm of its own. Tuesday was the National Football League’s Super Bowl Media Day, a chance for media outlets from around the world to interview players and coaches leading up to Sunday’s big game.
The Super Bowl has become one of perhaps the most ritualized spectacles in all of sports, and Media Day is an important component of the event. While Super Bowl Sunday is the main attraction, the build-up to the big day is now just as important. The Super Bowl has become a sports fan’s Christmas, and the two weeks between the conference championships and the game have become their holiday season.
This year’s lead up to the Super Bowl has been particularly turbulent and unavoidable. The onslaught of media coverage of “Deflategate” or Marshawn Lynch’s crude gesture has been overwhelming and hard to ignore. These stories have been woven into the Super Bowl narrative, have been the topics of endless debate, and have, at times, stolen the spotlight away from the actual game to be played on Sunday.
The Official Media Day takes some of the spotlight for itself as well, and ironically so. The idea of Media Day is to hear from the main characters involved in the drama to be played out on Sunday. Fans could even buy tickets to watch the Media Day madness unfold in Phoenix. It’s a spectacle within a spectacle, yet another element of the Super Bowl that has little to do with football.
As fans get swept away in the media storm, it’s worth considering what it is that we get out of the Super Bowl. It certainly seems to be something more than just football. There is an incredible narrative that goes with the entire event that, although obvious, might be worth a second look.
As with any great story, there must be great characters, and those characters must fit a role. Tom Brady, the aged hero set out to rise to greatness once more. Coach Pete Carroll, the man rejected by the Patriots seeking redemption and proof of greatness. Bill Belichick, the quiet but potentially evil mastermind out to deny Carroll’s efforts.
As with any great story, there is a conflict. Beyond the inherent conflict that comes with two teams vying for victory, there has been the addition of the “Deflategate” scandal. The controversy has brought into question the character of several leading characters, has perhaps exposed a weakness
and has certainly heightened the level of drama.
Media Day is, at its core, a celebration of the story whose climax is the Super Bowl. And this story, perhaps because it is important to the fans, is important to the League as well. It is the reason they have threatened, and in some cases actually fined Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch for refusing to talk to the media. The NFL knows people want the story and to hear from its main actors.
There are consequences that come along with the Super Bowl as a story. Players and coaches have become larger-than-life celebrities. The conflicts that have arisen imbue the game with moral implications about what’s right and wrong and people getting what perhaps others think they deserve. It has become so much more than what started as a simple game between an AFL and NFL team nearly fifty years ago.
The stage has been set. The place is Phoenix, Arizona. The time is Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. The main characters are the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The rest of the story remains to be written.