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SANTA FE — The Super Bowl has become too big to ignore, even during what may be the most important legislative session ever. Lawmakers certainly don’t ignore the Super Bowl.
Normally legislators put in a hard day’s work on the next to last Sunday of a legislative session. But when a Super Bowl falls on that day, don’t expect any floor sessions or committee meetings.
Gov. Bill Richardson also will be otherwise occupied. A huge sports fan, he hides out with about 20 friends at his favorite annual Super Bowl party in a room specially designated for cigars.
Of course 2008 was an exception. Former President Bill Clinton had asked to talk about Hillary’s candidacy and Richardson suggested they watch the Super Bowl together at the governors’ mansion. Houseboat racer Brian Condit also was present. A week later, Richardson endorsed Barack Obama.
Public servants really can’t be blamed for calling a time out from their activities to become part of this national obsession. President Richard Nixon got so involved he called Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula to suggest a play he believed would work against the Dallas Cowboys. It didn’t.
It is reported that the last time Green Bay was in the Super Bowl, local police in the area, who had to work that day, stopped people on the street and threatened a ticket unless they could provide an explanation why they weren’t watching the game.
Super Bowls have become the biggest single sporting events in the world. They are the most popular televised event every year. Over 100 million watch in the United States, almost half of them are women. One billion watch worldwide in 232 countries.
Thirty-second Super Bowl commercials now sell for $6 million. The game has become a showcase for premiering the newest and best ads. An estimated 59 percent of viewers elect to take bathroom breaks during the game rather than miss the commercials.
Besides commercials, the main Super Bowl attraction for a great many is the food. During the regular season, men often are the chief cooks at home-game tailgating parties in the parking lot. But on Super Sunday, women definitely get in the picture with some fancy home entertaining.
Research studies indicate sports bars are popular during the regular season but only four percent of the viewing public chooses them for watching the Super Bowl.
Thirteen percent go for delivery or takeout. But the other 83 percent cook up a storm at home and invite the neighbors. An estimated 20 million pounds of potato chips and tortilla chips are served that day along with 8 million pounds of avocados.
Many fans get much more imaginative, however. The Food Network now has over a dozen shows with Super Bowl themes during the week before the game. One report featured a couple who turned their dining room table into a stadium built out of 14,000 calories of snack food.
During the last two weeks of January, ads are everywhere offering to send you footballs made out of sausage, cheese, marshmallows, crisped rice and who knows what else. Every table needs a centerpiece.
So why the hysteria over a football game? Anthropologists tell us the game of football is a reinforcement of everything American -- especially when we’re talking American males and the biggest game of the year.
Two tribes of men clad in armor and colorful uniforms try to take each other’s territory. It’s not just about scoring points, it’s about taking territory with blitzes, bombs and sacks down in the trenches.
We’re told that professional football inspires feelings of watching gladiators in a coliseum, military maneuvers and a cockfight combined in one event.
How can one argue with the chicken fighting analogy when one sees combatants celebrate even minor triumphs by strutting around to celebrate their achievements?
It’s an enchanting spectacle so you might as well join in. Nothing else will be happening.
E-mail Jay Miller at