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SUPER BOWL XXI : PASADENA SCENE : IT'S ONLY FOOTBALL : A Reminder From Church of Angels: Enjoy the Game, Don't Worship It

January 26, 1987|PATT MORRISON | Times Staff Writer

The Rev. Robert Gaestel, at the Episcopal Church of the Angels, a couple of miles from the Rose Bowl, spent part of his Sunday homily discussing the Super Bowl.

In the course of his sermon about repentance as a fundamental change of one's vision and perception, he referred to "the fact that what it really is, is a football game, and entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that."

But he cautioned against inflating the importance of the game. The problem arises when "in the hearts and minds of man, this is more than entertainment; you can make a case for it being a religious experience, calling forth a sense of homage and sacrifice--with all the money that's spent--out of proportion to what the thing is."

He said the Super Bowl is symbolic of the competition for power, esteem and wealth that most people experience in their daily lives. "No matter what place you occupy in society, it is going on around you and probably within you," he said.

With all the hoopla leading up to the game, he said: "The Super Bowl and everything that surrounds it takes a daily experience and elevates it to a heightened level, and probably speaks more to where people are than some guy hanging on a cross."

But Gaestel contrasted that with Christian goals: "Christianity proclaims the values of cooperation instead of competition, mercy and love, not power and domination, transcending one's ego, not inflation of it. These things are very different, and to the world's eyes may look very foolish, but they are things that are eternal."

And to wrap up, referring to real repentance in that sense of changed vision: "In the end, you see truth others are blind to, and the Super Bowl returns to being a football game--something you're not compelled to worship but free to enjoy."

Pasadena Police Lt. Lynn Froistad said there was some pregame concern about possible Caltech pranks. "We take their pranks or anyone's pranks as serious. Anytime anyone would mess with computers or electronics down at the bowl, it could start a fire or panic people. There's always that fear on our part." No prank, though.

TWA added a couple of red-eye flights for Giants fans, $498 round trip. They left the East Coast at 8 a.m. Sunday, were scheduled to leave LAX at 10:30 p.m. Sunday and get into JFK at 6:20 a.m.

Bonnie Hodge of Denver changed her mind about trading her three-quarter-karat diamond ring for two good Super Bowl seats, as she had advertised in the Denver Post. It's a ring from a previous marriage and has been in a drawer for 15 years. "I'm not going to do it. I changed my mind," she said. The ring had been appraised at $3,100.

Richard K. Cacioppo, a Woodland Hills lawyer, is an expatriate New Yorker and longtime Giants fan. He first advertised in the classifieds offering $10,000 free legal services in exchange for good seats, then upped the ante to free legal consultation for life: "I'll be your legal slave," he said. Cacioppo got one nibble from a man who said he would offer two seats on the 30-yard line, but the fellow never showed to make the deal. And he had one other call, from a guy offering two seats at midfield if Cacioppo and his wife would model in the nude. Cacioppo declined that one in a hurry, and watched the game on television.

Cameron Brunner is a third-generation Pasadenan and knows what it's like when games are held at the Rose Bowl. Her family lives in Orange Grove, and she was bracing for the worst. "You get teams that want to kill each other, and the fans want to kill each other, too," she said. Some longtime Pasadenans learn to cope. "If they're not going to the game, they stay inside--'Lock up your daughter and your dog,' " she said.

"After the Super Bowl (there is the fourth in the Rose Bowl), they come streaming down the street like Grant taking Richmond, all drunk, hooting, honking horns--it's a nightmare. I don't go out--you take your life in your hands."

This sentiment is endorsed by Pat Andress, manager of the Trader Joe's on Arroyo Boulevard, who sees the effect of a "captive audience," with Pasadenans stocking up and then locking up. "People who don't have bowl tickets stay home. . . . If you know tourists are coming, you don't want to be caught out on the streets."

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