The popular AMC TV series “The Walking Dead” returns with new shows on Feb. 10, in case you hadn’t heard. But in reality it returns on Feb. 4 — the Monday after the Super Bowl. That’s when you shuffle in to work like a mindless zombie after a previous day’s revelry, reeking of guacamole and honey barbecue chicken wings and wishing to God that someone would declare a holiday so you can go home.Many others had the same thought, which is why there’s actually a petition on We The People, the White House petition page, to make the Monday following the Super Bowl a national holiday. The petition needs to attract 100,000 signatures before the White House will consider it, and as of now it only has about 10,000 — so don’t plan your three-day weekend just yet. But the idea is gaining steam, and one day it will happen. Nothing explains who we are as Americans more than the biggest NFL game of the year. The World Cup and the Olympics may draw more viewers, but those two events are still mostly about the athletics. The World Series takes more time to play, but that’s still about baseball. The DNA of the Super Bowl, on the other hand, is 70 percent spectacle, 30 percent sport. If aliens were preparing to invade Earth and needed to discover how to take out its biggest player, they should probably just attack during the Super Bowl. We’d all be huddled in front of flat-screen TVs consuming Doritos, or possibly in the bathroom. It would be a rout.No one can pinpoint the exact moment when the spectacle of the Super Bowl overtook the actual game. Perhaps it was Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show in 2004 (how many remember which teams actually played in the Super Bowl that year? See what I mean?). Or perhaps it was that Volkswagen ad starring the kid in the Darth Vader costume who tries to start his dad’s car. According to a Hanon McKendry study conducted online by Harris Interactive, 56 percent of adult Americans say that they’ll watch Super Bowl XLVII as much or more for the commercials as for the game. And among female viewers that jumps to 66 percent. Think about that for a moment: we’re gathering around a TV show — even planning viewing parties — to watch commercials.Chickens do not approve. Did you know that last year Americans consumed 2.5 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl? And that because of increased grain prices and hard weather, fewer chickens were produced in 2012, which means a chicken wing shortage. Instead of 2.5 billion wings, the National Chicken Council (yes there is such a thing) predicts only 2.3 billion will be consumed this year.A quick check on StubHub shows that the average ticket price for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans is hovering around $3,520, with luxury suites in excess of $300,000 — and that’s not including parking pass and Mardi Gras beads. A ticket to the first Super Bowl, by contrast, cost $12, and the game didn’t even sell out. That was in 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and while not hugely popular, at least it ensured that the NFL would be firmly entrenched in that city forever and ever.The point is that the game itself hasn’t changed very much since 1967, but Super Bowl ticket prices have gone from $12 to $3,000. That’s the inflation of spectacle for you. “Rome is the mob,” said Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus in “Gladiator.” And as in Rome, the beating heart of our republic is not the marble of the Senate, it’s on the cobblestone of the New Orleans French Quarter. Please note that the actual playing time of the game itself takes up only 60 minutes of Super Bowl Party Week. The remainder is taken up by things like this email I just received: “I’d like to invite you to a Head & Shoulders Super Bowl Media Event at Pat O’Brien’s in NOLA on Wednesday Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. We’ll be revealing our newest Head & Shoulders spokesperson, C.J. Wilson of the Los Angeles Angels.”That doesn’t have much to do with football, but neither does the Super Bowl these days.
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