The Shah of Persia refused to be taken to the Derby Day, saying "It is already known to me that one horse can run faster than another."
— William James, "The Principles of Psychology, Volume 2"
I'm with the shah on this one. I feel the same way about the Super Bowl. I fail to see the point in watching a bunch of tatted-up millionaires knock each other down.
But I understand they are expecting an audience of 100 million people. I understand further that a 30-second advertising spot costs $4 million. And I understand things have gotten to the point where there are ads for the ads. According to the Wall Street Journal, several companies spent millions of dollars in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl trying to build marketing buzz in anticipation of their Super Bowl ads.
They have gone from hyping the new Jaguar to hyping the new Jaguar ad.
There is a lesson here. It has to do with how far we've gotten away from reality in this country. Instead of an economy based on building things and selling them, we have one based on credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. Instead of conversations with our friends, we have Twitter feeds and Facebook posts. Instead of work, we have data systems management consulting. Instead of sex, we have porn. Instead of food, we have pink slime. Instead of sleep, we have drugs.
Reality has been pushed out by its artificial, synthetic, spin-doctored, Photoshopped, plastic substitute. I'm against it. And don't talk to me about screens. I spend enough time staring at screens. I'm staring at one as I write this. My goal is to get away from all of that and back to basics.
So here's my plan for Super Bowl Sunday:
Dress up warm — parka, boots, gloves, hat — and shovel the snow. With a shovel, not a snowblower. Then take an ax and a splitting maul out to the wood pile and split enough wood to keep a fire going all day. By the time I'm done, I should be hungry and tired. Go inside, make a fire, take off my boots, and put my feet up. Pet the dog. Have a glass of whiskey. Eat food made out of ingredients my grandmother would recognize. Read a book — the kind with pages and a cover. Pet the cat. Play my (acoustic) guitar. Cuddle up with my wife on the couch across from the fireplace and watch the fire. And then take a nap.
The idea is to get cold, tired and hungry, and then warm, full and rested. No screens, no ads, no hype, no artificial ingredients.
I don't doubt that the geniuses behind the Super Bowl and the halftime show and the zillion-dollar Super Bowl ads have come up with lots of amazing special effects. No doubt they are funny and clever and all that. But they can't touch my plan. They're a million miles away.
Barry Goldman is an arbitrator and mediator in Detroit and the author of "The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators."