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It's Super Sunday Mania: Catch XXII : The Big Game Is On--Don't Doze

January 30, 1988|JAY SHARBUTT | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Oh, drat. I planned to curl up Sunday and watch an exciting health show called "Therapeutic Fiber." But it's on cable. There is no cable where I live, which is Brooklyn.

OK, Super Bowl XXII, then. As I understand things, ABC is televising it live Sunday in Brooklyn, and in Los Angeles and also in the United States.

In addition, Super Bowl XXII will be seen--live or on delayed tape--in 55 foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia, where sandstorm football is very big, and Switzerland, the swinging home of Geneva and the Accords.

Sunday's game is critically important, Western diplomatic observers say. Why else do you think ABC would bring in 70 TV monitors for VIPs and the

press, plus 32 cameras, 75,000 feet of cable, 10 Frame Synchronizers and one blimp?

Of course, 70 TV monitors for Very Important Persons and the press seems a little odd because the monitors, like all the other gear, will be at or near Super Bowl XXII in Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.

I don't know why any Very Important Person or member of the press, after going to all the trouble of going to Super Bowl XXII, would want to watch it on a TV monitor. But such is life at a Major Sporting Event.

I have never seen such an event up close and in person, although I once was invited to the Staff Sgt. Bob Barnes Golf Classic near Beaufort, S.C. But I have done my share of watching pro football on TV.

I began back in the days of Tank Younger and Bobby Layne and Bob Waterfield and a wild Chicago delegate whose first name was Bow-wow. His last name sounded like WoodyaHowitz.

Those were TV's black-and-white days. Maybe three cameras, max. No replays. One game on Sunday. That was it. Primitive, but fun.

Now, my stars: two, sometimes three games on Sunday, cameras everywhere, slo-mo even when the referee picks up his yellow hankie, and, get this, official timeouts for commercials!

Advertisers still love the game, even this way. It delivers what they call a "target audience," in this case millions of potbellied guys who may someday buy a beer or a car--or a car battery with which to start a car.

All well and good. With progress, though, has come a certain TV football rhythm that in recent years has consistently put both me and my father to sleep while we watched even exciting games.

It's hard to explain this phenomenon of gridiron nod-off. But the TV football rhythm is at the heart of it. You hear crash and grunt, commentary and commercials, replay . . . then crash and grunt, commentary and commercials, replay.

After maybe 20 minutes of this, you quietly nod off. It's sort of like listening to the gentle lapping of ocean breakers on a pleasant day at the beach.

I don't know how many others in America suffer gridiron nod-off. It probably isn't much of a problem on Super Bowl Sunday, what with Super Bowl parties and people getting hammered and falling in the cheese dip.

There'll be a lot of that this Sunday, except by me. I haven't been invited to a Super Bowl party. But, you know, I've been thinking about all this, and, what the hey, I'll do the patriotic thing.

I'll watch Super Bowl XXII on TV at home. Sure, the show is covered in hype, gross excess, bad taste and worse. Sure, I may nod off in the first quarter, just as if it were a normal show.

But, by neddies, if ABC is going to bring in 70 TV monitors, 32 cameras, 75,000 feet of cable, 10 Frame Synchronizers and one blimp, the least I can do is tune in to this . . . game.

It might even be fun. Particularly since I haven't the foggiest idea who's playing.

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