The Super Bowl: I reveal the winners

Place your bets now...

Normally, when I draw a cartoon for King Features I post it here the next day. And if I draw a cartoon on Friday I wait to post it until Monday.

That’s because – according to a former Kansas City Star coworker – internet numbers tend to go down on the weekend and spike when people first get to work or are about to go home for the day. You get more page views when you post at 9AM or 4:30 PM on a weekday.

Turns out we’re killing time at our jobs by checking out the internet, so if you ever wondered what happened to American productivity blame Facebook.

Anyway…

I drew this Super Bowl cartoon on Friday and it wouldn’t mean much on Monday so I decided to post it today and write something about it while I’m at it.

The observer effect

Physics isn’t my strongest subject (still waiting to find out what is), but I have heard of the “observer effect” and here it is:

“In physics, the observer effect is the theory that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon.”

I can’t tell you much about how observing electrons changes their behavior, but after covering the Kansas City Royals for a decade I can tell you a thing or two about our National Pastime.

Because it’s played 162 times a year no sport rewards consistency like baseball.

Pick the approach that gives you the best results and then stick with it. Players go to extreme lengths to make this happen: drive to the ballpark the same way every day, eat the same pregame meal and put your socks on in the same order.

Then they get to the postseason and just when players need consistency the most, everything changes.

I’ve been behind the scenes while the Royals went to two World Series and every time they won and advanced, things got progressively nuttier. As other teams got knocked out of the postseason, the media crowd surrounding the Royals just kept getting bigger and bigger.

And by observing those games we changed them.

So many reporters needed to justify their presence at the games by getting “exclusive” interviews, players started avoiding the clubhouse.

Before games there were so many reporters and cameras between the dugout and the field – all looking for an interview – that players would start running up the dugout steps and then weave through the crowd of reporters like a running back returning a kickoff.

The media was actually making it harder for the players to get to the field so they could practice for the most important games of the season.

BTW: If you’re a sports fan you might have noticed that sideline reporters are often smoking-hot young women and I figured out at least one good reason for that. A player who was ducking interviews from middle-aged men with comb-overs would spot Erin Andrews, take a hard left and ask:

“Erin, you need anything?”

It dawned on me that at least some of those women were getting interviews the rest of us couldn’t. There are women who have been around long enough to earn every interview they get, but when you’re starting out it doesn’t hurt to be attractive to young men and if I ever experience that I’ll let you know how it goes.

Since I covered the Royals and knew all the players personally it helped get me interviews, but as soon as I started talking with a player, reporters who couldn’t get an interview would flock around and would turn my private conversation into a press conference.

I was having a conversation with Wade Davis – not even sure we were talking about baseball – when a TV nitwit turned on a camera, stuck a microphone in our faces and made it appear I was conducting an interview for whatever TV network that douchebag hailed from.

That kind of crap is one of the reasons pro athletes don’t like reporters all that much.

Back to the Super Bowl

We get to the most important football game of the year and screw it up by making the athletes wait two weeks to play, do interviews instead of prepare for the game and make halftime long enough to write and read War and Peace.

By observing the Super Bowl we change it.

That was the point I was making in the cartoon: so much crap surrounds the commercial opportunity that we call the Super Bowl that football becomes an afterthought.  

Don’t believe me?

Remember that halftime show when Justin Timberlake pulled off Janet Jackson’s top? What teams played that year and what was the final score?

I don’t know either.

For a long time I’ve thought the last two good football games are the conference championships and if you win one of those, you had a damn good year. We like to divide athletes and teams into winners and losers, but if you made it to the Super Bowl you’re not a loser.

It’s like when a baseball fan says a player sucks, but if a guy makes it to the big leagues think of what he’s gone through to get there: Little League, high school ball, college ball, the minors and for at least one night he was considered one of the best 750 players on the planet.

He might not be as good as some other players, but that’s not the same as sucking.

I’m a Chiefs fan and my brothers out in Sacramento are 49er fans and whatever happens today, we should enjoy the fact that our teams got this far…it doesn’t happen often enough to take it for granted.

The last time the Chief were in the Super Bowl was 50 years ago, so if they stay on that schedule the next time I see them play for the Lombardi Trophy I’ll be 116 years old. (On the other hand, my mom’s 94 so it appears I’ve got a shot.)

I can’t tell you the final score of tonight’s game or who will hold up the trophy, but I can already tell you one thing for sure:

Both teams are winners.