February 4th, 2013

Billy Reed: Giving Context to Super Bowl Sunday


Billy Reed

Executive Editor

Billy Reed: Giving Context to Super Bowl Sunday
image from superbowl2013live.com

Super Bowl Sunday brings out the best and worst all at once

As all good Catholics surely noted, the Super Bowl once again was an excellent showcase for the Seven Deadly Sins as defined by the church many Roman numerals ago. The Super Bowl is our national orgy of excess in which Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, and Wrath each make at least a cameo appearance in almost every American household.

Let’s begin with Envy. When the Baltimore Ravens held on to beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, I am betting that Brotherly Love left the building. Jim Harbaugh had to envy his brother John hoisting that big trophy symbolic of Super Bowl victory. And everybody who bet on the wrong Harbaugh was envious of those who got it right.

Personally, I was envious of Tyrod Taylor. He’s the Ravens’ backup quarterback. He didn’t have to take a snap in New Orleans but he still gets a ring and winner’s check. He also was in the locker room before the game and didn’t have to hear Alicia Keyes torture the national anthem.

This is where Wrath comes in. Surely I was not the only fan who was furious that Keyes – obviously no relation to Francis Scott -- drug out the anthem for 2:41.4, which probably was a record for all sporting events ever.

Let us take a refresher course on anthem etiquette:

  • The anthem is just that – an anthem – and should be sung at a brisk pace. There’s no excuse for the anthem ever lasting longer than 1:20.
  • Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that the anthem is a license to turn one-syllable words into two syllables, two into three, and so on. I hate it when “land” becomes “lie-uh-und.”
  • It always is a good thing to remember the words.
  • The national anthem is about our nation, not the singer. Surely it is not asking too much for a singer to suppress his or her ego long enough to honor those who have died for our country.
  • The anthem is what it is and it’s not open to interpretation. It should never be done as country, soul, rhythm-and-blues, hard rock, or, especially, hip-hop.

And while we’re on the topic of singers, let’s talk about Lust, which is what the halftime show was all about. I think Michael Jackson or Cher was the first entertainer to package sex, elaborate costumes, dancing, technology and pyrotechnics into a new kind of performance art.

They were followed by Madonna, who took it to a new level, and Lady Gaga, who took it into uncharted territory. (Did you see her bra with the twin assault weapons?) On Sunday night, Beyonce upheld that tradition in grand style during the halftime show.

Let’s be honest here. No woman has a right to be as physically attractive as she is. And when you put her in leather and lace and allow her to wantonly strut her stuff amid smoke and flashing lights, well, only the worst kind of nerd would care if she were lip-synching or not. My question is: How many Catholic moms let their kids watch the show? What’s the cutoff age for exposure to her exposure?

Naturally, her most ardent fans were the couch potatoes, which brings me to Sloth. One definition of sloth is “a slow-moving tropical American mammal that hangs upside down from the branches of trees using its long limbs and hooked claws.”

But I don’t want to talk about Tea Party members here. I want to talk about the cretins who can’t watch the Super Bowl without creating a mound of empty beer cans, crumbs, and crumpled bags that they expect somebody else to clean up. You know who you are.

The officiating also was slothful. It was almost as if the NFL decided to bring back the replacement referees for its big show. On the 49ers’ last offensive play, with the game in the balance, the Ravens not only held wide receiver Michael Crabtree, they put him in a hold like you usually see only in the World Wrestling Federation. Apparently, no holds are barred, literally, in the last minute of a close game.

The first cousin of Sloth is Gluttony, which is promoted on many Super Bowl commercials. This year I particularly hated the ones pushing Doritos. As my friend Bob Lochte put it on his Facebook page, “Frito Lay, goats and transvestites don't make me want to eat Doritos.”

The NFL does not own the franchise on Greed – that has become the American way of life – but it’s sure doing its part to promote it. Check out the prices the league charges for tickets and TV commercials. I’ll bet they weren’t even upset when the power went out in the Superdome because that only meant they could sell more concessions at grossly inflated prices.

That leaves Pride, of which the players are full. I don’t know if this Super Bowl set a record for bragging, chest-thumping, camera-mugging, and silly celebrations of mundane plays, but it’s got to be in the running. I pulled against the Ravens mainly because I’m sick of linebacker Ray Lewis, who appears to have no shame about dodging a double-murder charge.

I can’t wait to read the estimates about how many millions were bet on the Super Bowl, legally or not. Gambling is where Pride and Greed run headlong into Lust and Gluttony, with Wrath, Envy, and Sloth the end result for the losers.

Just remember this: You can’t go wrong betting on the Seven Deadly Sins to win Super Bowl Sunday. They’re unbeaten. For more information, please refer to your parish priest.


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