Along with tens of millions of my fellow Americans, I watched the Super Bowl last night. It was a terrible game in the sense that it wasn’t much of one, with Seattle winning 43-8. Although I was happy for Russell Wilson, it was hard watching Peyton Manning suffer through another big game disappointment. As great as he is, last night he looked old, slow, and confused.
I’ll tell you someone who didn’t look old, slow and confused…Bruno Mars! Watching him in his black pants and gold sparkled jacket and skinny black tie was like going back in time. This guy’s act looked like a cross between the Temptations and Earth Wind and Fire. What a talent! But, I digress.
Watching the game last night was like watching a live refutation of modern sports theory. In practically every sport except soccer, the powers that be want one thing, offense, offense and more offense. In baseball it led to the steroid scandal. Chicks dig the long ball so load up! In football, the people that make the rules have been on a 20 year campaign to handcuff defensive players. The result has been gaudy passing statistics, unheard of offensive production from mediocre players and higher TV ratings. If you take the time to think about it, it makes sense. The casual fan wants sizzle, and offense is sizzle. Offense is action, defense is reaction. Offense is flashy, defense is stubborn. Offense is fleet, graceful athletes running like gazelles in the open field. Defense is the hungry lion waiting for his chance to kill. Offense is “yes we can!” Defense is, “no you can’t.” Offense wants everything now. Defense is ruthlessly patient.
In baseball, offense is a 10-9 slugfest. Defense is a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Offense is a box score full of numbers. Defense is capitalizing on one little mistake to win a game you might have and probably should have lost. Home run hitters get paid insane money, sure handed infielders don’t. That amazing wide receiver making that athletic catch over the middle stars in commercials. The guy taking his head off doesn’t.
But last night for all of the world to see was the awful truth that no matter how heavily the deck gets stacked against it, defense still wins championships. It’s the brute force of the immovable object that still humiliates the flashy irresistible force. It’s why the Oregon Ducks might be fun to watch, but it’s the Crimson Tide that racks up National Titles. It’s why run and gun basketball teams don’t make it past shut down defenders like Michael Jordan and Lebron James. It’s why the team with the best pitching almost always wins the World Series.
There’s probably some broader lesson about society and culture to be learned here, some metaphor for life lurking in these truths. But, I’m not smart enough to make it. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
One more thing, I thought that the commercials were excellent this year. Other years have featured more laugh out loud moments maybe, but these were clever and interesting for the most part. All in all, a fun night.