Loud crackling and booming interrupted an otherwise quiet Saturday evening. Rather than be frightened by the sound, I just turned up the volume on the television to try to drown it out somewhat.
Down the street, either practicing in anticipation of the football game, or prematurely optimistic about the outcome, somebody was setting off fireworks in anticipation of Super Bowl Sunday.
If it was possible to condense all American stereotypes, vices and shortcomings into one day annually, it’d likely be similar to the Super Bowl.
Drinking in excess, overeating and football sounds like a typical weekend for several Americans. When the Super Bowl arrives, though, participation becomes mandatory. It is almost un-American not to. When parties are thrown to entertain extended families, or to bring together neighborhoods, a sense of community is formed that crosses boundaries and centralizes around a traditional American pastime, watching a television.
The Super Bowl is special in that it manages to get millions of Americans to watch the exact same thing at the same time, regardless of age or time zone. This makes it powerful, and much more than than a regular sporting event; the Super Bowl is a medium used to subdue the masses into an uninhibited frame of mind, so that the viewer falls prey to group-think.
Parties and potlucks are just as par for the course as during Thanksgiving, which makes it feel like a holiday, and encourages the association of positive feelings with football.
The commercials alone are considered a reason to tune in and are often the subject of conversation for days after they air. Guest performances by celebrities pull audiences from both fans of music and football, to increase the demographics that turn on the television, or even buy a ticket from out of state.
Of course, entertainment can be seen as a benefit. I have nothing against sports, football, or even the Super Bowl.
Casual football fans come out of the woodwork with face paint and jerseys to chant and jeer at a screen. Working class citizens who aren’t lucky enough to have the game played in their home state often shell out several hundred to a few thousand dollars for plane tickets, stadium tickets and lodging as a worthwhile expenditure for at most a weekend stay. Of course, not every viewer watched the game in person, or had to commute by plane to do so. But there was still a lot of money being shelled out by the people who did want to, with over 70,000 individuals packing the Glendale stadium, as well as an untold number who did not get to their seats due to various inhibiting factors.
The usual suspects like pickpocketing and outright scamming by shady sellers is par for the course, but this year another culprit added to the issue, short selling.
Several people were cheated out of their tickets due to short selling, which is the practice of selling tickets not currently in stock in the hopes that more can be acquired in time to deliver them to the consumer.
One company, Vivid Seats, made use of this nearly to the point of financial ruin.
According to ChicagoBusiness.com, at one point Vivid Seats was offering a 200 percent refund on short-sold tickets that they were not able to produce in time, or at a profit.
With a value at $1,900, it was cheaper to refund twice the price tickets were bought at, rather than acquiring tickets that were now only available at prices close to $10,000 apiece.
It seems like these people were victims, but the high demand for tickets by people willing to pay well above face value encouraged sellers to sell short in the first place.
The high demand was created by the hype surrounding the Super Bowl, which was created by the NFL but is bought into and fueled by rabid fans who want tickets badly enough to pay those prices.
Those foolish enough to buy into the group-think are unfortunately not few or far between, and the influence of the Super Bowl is inescapable.
Even to those whom consider themselves relatively unaffected, the mass hysteria is bound to have a hold on someone they know.
That is probably the most insidious part of Super Bowl hysteria, since it is marketed as entertainment, it seems like if you aren’t participating, then you’re missing out on all the fun.