Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Game On! - Party Down!

The NFL Super Bowl is the crowning contest of one of the most popular sports in the world. In addition to the sporting event, the Super Bowl is the number-two party date in the United States, surpassed only by New Year's Eve. This year promises to be no exception, as hosts all around the country are planning their get-togethers. Whether it's a small gathering of a few friends or hundreds of fans meeting in a local ballroom, each party will have one thing in common: traditions.

For some the tradition starts with the "man cave." It's often the one day in the year when women are allowed to enter the inner sanctum (the "holy of holies," if you will) of the man cave. There they will experience all the heady, atmospheric ambience an 80-inch flat screen television with Dolby Surround Sound can deliver. With every grunt, snort and bone-cracking tackle amplified, your favorite lady may never want to visit again. On this hallowed Sunday, behemoth televisions around the world transmit play-by-play action that both mesmerizes and sustains football fans everywhere.

Super Bowl viewing is also perpetuated by tasty food selections offered to the throngs assembled for the big game. Regional varieties of cuisine will pop up here and there to be sure, but the venerated staples of guacamole, hot wings and beer cross state borders north to south and east to west. And as any party host worth his salsa knows, a Super Bowl invitation without a banquet feast of munchies is about as memorable as a Thanksgiving without the dressing.

In some years, creative, quirky and in-your-face Super Bowl commercials have made Super Sunday even more interesting, upstaging occasionally the gridiron action itself. It is the commercial breaks between plays where industry titans reinforce their brands and where fledgling upstarts hope to create an impression still remembered on Monday morning. Party goers sit spellbound, watching these ads, rating them with cheers, boos, groans and laughter. Who knows, maybe some company this year will top the "Mean Joe Greene" Coke advertisement of 1979, where a young boy gets Mean Joe's jersey and, as a result, becomes the most remembered ad ever?

Then, of course, there's the halftime spectacle -- or debacle -- as the case may be. While not infrequently an exercise in mediocrity delivered by a star in decline, this year's act promises little better, as Madonna takes the stage. Perhaps the inclusion of some circus elephants and trained monkeys will offer an entertaining diversion to whatever antics she's got up her sleeve.

We can only hope.

In the end, Super Bowl Sunday is an American institution. It might be that we could care less about who's playing, but we all know there's something good about getting together. And here's something you might not have thought of: try showing the promo for the Men's NetWork's latest Bible study, Colt McCoy: A Father, A Son, and Football (www.lhmmen.com) either before the game or (unless you have a roomful of Madonna fans) during the halftime break.

Then sometime in the weeks following the game, you can invite the guys back to your place and -- using that same monster TV you watched the Super Bowl on -- enjoy the two quick sessions of the Colt McCoy Bible study.

It's brand new; it's about personal character and football, and it shows the enduring value of living a God-centered life -- whether you're winning or losing.

Too bad the Cleveland Browns aren't in the Super Bowl this year. The timing would have been impeccable.

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