This week feels special, a bit like the week before Christmas. You get overly excited, the TV is taken over by related programming and everyone is trying to work out whether everything will go to plan on the big day. When it actually comes, its over in a flash, everyone has a good time and you wonder why we all got so worked up in the first place. But regardless of the fact this happens every year, I am once again well and truly caught up in the whirlwind of hype that is Superbowl week. Now that media access to the players has drawn to a close, it got me thinking about the importance of this build up.
If I’m honest some of the happenings of this week are pretty alien to me as a reserved Brit, especially if you consider the way that major sporting events are built up here. We tend to play everything down, even put a negative spin on it, just in case it doesn’t turn out too well; “Andy Murray isn’t good enough to win Wimbledon” or “London transport can’t cope with these Olympics” When it comes to major annual finals, such as the FA Cup, you may get a couple of yesteryear documentaries but the coverage is little more than for a regular 3 o’clock on Saturday game. Yes, the NFL does most coverage with more razzle-dazzle than British sports, but the Superbowl build up takes it to a whole new level.
Media day is probably the most far removed from anything we see here. You’d be unlikely to see Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho sitting on a podium for 60 minutes answering questions from small children about their favourite stuffed animals. In fact, after watching both the Seahawks and Patriots sessions in the zoo, we mainly learnt the following:
- Gronk can’t sing, but he does know some Katy Perry songs.
- Bill Belichick says the Patriots need to ‘play well in all three phases of the game and score more points than the Seahawks’…in case you weren’t aware of that.
- Marshawn Lynch was ‘only there so I don’t get fined’ and therefore gave a great example to his young fans on how to behave in public.
- Earl Thomas has a snappy hat and cool shades.
- Russell Wilson appears to be an ambassador for Microsoft; he really likes the Surface tablet and even uses it in his day to day life.
In addition, there was a man dressed as a barrel, correspondents from media outlets with little or no interest in football and much discussion about Tom Brady’s hair.
Considering all this, you could be forgiven for wondering what the point is. However, media day isn’t to get in depth dialogue about strategic direction, game planning or whether Sherman or Revis will have the better game. It serves a different purpose and that is to make it all seem that bit more real and crank up the hype just one more notch for everyone; players, coaches, fans, media. It’s the first opportunity for the teams to set out their stall, saying ‘we are here and we mean business’. And both teams did, showing passion, intensity, excitement and a genuine pride to be there; in their own inimitable way. The Seahawks were more guarded than last year, giving less away about their approach to the game, showing an awareness of just how close this match up will be. Belichick even cracked more than one smile.
And it doesn’t stop there. Although the press conferences of the proceeding days are more traditional in approach, we are still hearing more about Marshawn Lynch’s five minute timer than what we are possibly going to see on Sunday. Maybe that is because this is one of the closest SB match ups for a long time, but also because that is just what gets us going. That’s not to say that the importance of the game is trivialised by all the media circus and furore, but instead it builds the feeling that this is something special, that we are about to see the greatest show on earth. It gets people talking, tweeting and debating. Maybe us Brits could learn a thing or do.
Back in Arizona, the players and coaches will surely be glad that it’s all over so they can now refocus on the real reason they are all roasting in Phoenix. Apparently Vince Wilfork breathed an audible sigh of relief after leaving the podium and it’s not hard to glean Beastmode’s views on the subject. We can now all look forward to Sunday and just like the teams, focus back on the the nitty gritty of the game. Media day and the rest has set the tone but the real questions will be answered on the field. I for one, cannot wait!