The Super Bowl. Our newest -- and biggest -- national holiday. What a depressing thought.



Holiday time can be emotionally difficult for those not sharing in the festive mood. The weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday -- an acknowledged American holiday -- are no exception. A look inside one holiday-depression sufferer's diary:

Monday, Jan. 12

Bad morning. Immediate world festive as NFL playoffs end, Super Bowl countdown begins. Yet, inner gloom prevails. Joyous holiday spirit somehow proves elusive.

Super Sunday holiday depression danger signal: writing clipped sentences omitting prepositions, articles. Worse yet: Super Bowl point-spread apathy. Feeling oddly unmoved by Denver vs. Green Bay, much less Budweiser Lizards vs. Budweiser Frogs.

Festive holiday shoppers jam stores, happily scurry about making holiday plans. Buy televisions, nachos, salsa, CheezWhiz, lite beer, sour cream and dehydrated dip mix. Super Sunday bona fide American holiday, so people say. Further investigation warranted.

Things to do: exercise, reduce caffeine intake.

Thursday, Jan. 15

1: 15 p.m.: Interview with David L. Blum, vice president at Baltimore advertising agency Eisner & Associates, Inc. and nationally recognized Super Bowl advertising expert.

Nice chap, Blum. Walks in from rain carrying bright red M&M doll big as beach ball, promotional item for Super Bowl ad featuring Dick Clark chatting up large, animated M&M candies. Recalls last year's Fred Astaire dancing with vacuum cleaner spot.

Advertisers spending average $1.3 million per 30-second spot this year, 58 spots per game. Biggest television audience of year. Maybe 140 million, 150 million viewers. Do math. Festive numbers. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Festive holiday themes: Transform Super Bowl advertisement into promotable "event." Feed hungry media. "Leverage" ad spending with promotion.

"You can almost, in some cases, triple your investment in publicity time if you do it the right way," says Blum.

Super Sunday holiday depression danger signal: Difficulty focusing. Amid upbeat discussion of big money ads and corporate ego orgy, mind drifts. Contemplate shaving head, entering Buddhist monastery, spending remaining years in Kuala Lumpur raising small ginseng crop.

5: 38 p.m.: Hallmark Cards fax arrives, announcing "Electronic Greetings Send NFL Cheers ... or Jeers." Hallmark offering $1 Super Bowl greeting card sent through electronic mail. Appropriately joyous holiday messages, such as, "PACKERS KICK ELWAY BUTT, NACHO-BREATH!!" Fax also announces Hallmark "line of party paperware" to make season bright. Appears official: Super Sunday -- American Holiday. No arguing with Hallmark. Hallmark too big. Hallmark American as John Wayne, Clinton sex scandals. Nowhere to run, hide. Better get in swing -- now. "Silver Bells, Silver Bells, it's Super Sunday in city ..."

Things to do: Find Nat King Cole recording of merry Super Sunday anthem: "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLL ..."

Friday, Jan. 16

9: 30 a.m.: Library research confirms worst.

TV Guide, January 1995: "More than just a football game, Super Sunday is an American TV holiday." Article hints that only Americans not watching game either victims of horrible government radiation experiments or on death row. Article quite upbeat. Article gushes: "It's a great day to be an American because the Super Bowl is our best national holiday."

Even more credibility -- Newsweek, January 1997: "Now there's really only one true communal ritual left. ... You can argue that it has become our pre-eminent secular holiday ..."

Syntax note: phrase "communal ritual" suggests corn-husking bee, Amish barn-raising, campfire weenie roast. Not sitting around eating nachos watching Fred Astaire dance with vacuum cleaner.

Afternoon: Time blurs. Blum package arrives bearing videotape of fabled Apple Macintosh computer "1984" Super Bowl advertisement. Watch video, but festive Super Sunday mood remains elusive. Ad theme: tyranny, represented by giant "Big Brother" television, bad; rebellion, represented by woman in red track shorts smashing television with sledge hammer, good. Profoundly confusing. Ad becomes legend of American holiday in which entire nation watches television. Huh?

Super Sunday holiday depression danger signal: Rather than laugh off amusing irony, indulge nightmare vision of being dragged into Orwellian gulag by Super Bowl Thought Police, forced to view Bud Frogs until they seem genuinely entertaining.

Things to do: Get more sleep. Be good to self. Find Super Sunday holiday depression support group.

Monday, Jan. 19

9: 45 a.m.: Editor drops on desk cheery advertising insert from Sunday paper for "New! Potato AIR CRISPS ... Official Sponsors of Bud Bowl X." X? That many? Seems only yesterday was eagerly anticipating Bud Bowl VIII.

Things to do: Check leasing possibility on Theodore Kaczynski's shack.

12: 09 p.m.: California company faxes. Announces introduction of Monopoly Commemorative Super Bowl Edition. "The excitement of the Super Bowl game can't be beat!" says company president Dane Chapin.

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