Maybe you’ve heard about this big football game being played next Sunday. It’s Super Bowl LIV, and the fact the NFL insists on branding its championship game with Roman numerals is a hint of the self-aggrandizement the owners of America’s professional football teams deem necessary.
Yet, Americans have bought into the largess that is known as Super Sunday. For instance, the actual game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers doesn’t begin until 6:30 p.m. ET, but the FOX pregame show begins at 2:00 p.m. ET. That’s right, the 4.5-hour pregame show lasts longer than the actual game!
Nothing wrong with FOX capitalizing on America’s appetite for football, mind you. But it’s worth noting that 30-second advertisements airing during the game cost $5.6 million – and were sold out in November. Anheuser-Busch InBev bought four, 60-second ads for its various adult beverages. That’s nearly $45 million! But, drink responsibly…
Beer companies, auto makers and soda companies are among those seeking to influence your purchases through advertising. The huge TV audience – roughly 100 million viewers – also attracts politicians, and President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg have each purchased one 60-second spot during the game. President Trump will also be interviewed by Sean Hannity in a segment that will air at 3:30 p.m. The over/under betting on Trump uttering the word "hoax" during the interview is 3.5.
Super Sunday is the climax of a season that began last July, and the hype leading up to the big game becomes mind-boggling, which is the only logical explanation for Scott Ostler’s poke in Kansas City’s collective eye with a sharp stick.
Ostler, who writes sports columns for the San Francisco Chronicle, penned what he called “a beginner’s introduction to Kansas City, a public service to help 49ers fans learn about the city and the people they will spend the next two weeks hating.”
There’s the gauntlet. San Francisco is that shining city on the bay, home to high-tech billionaires, great local wineries and expensive white tablecloth restaurants. Kansas City is fly-over country, with the emphasis on country.
I get it, Ostler was merely trying to have some fun. He suggested we’re mostly hicks in Kansas City, and that he couldn’t entice one of the KC Star’s sports columnists to engage in dueling columns because, “Kansas City’s columnist was busy on a cattle drive.”
Yes, he went there. Making light of Kansas City’s Cowtown past he wrote, “Until Kansas City’s famed stockyards closed down in 1991, the city was pretty much wall-to-wall cows and pigs, few of whom were housebroken.”
Ha, ha, all good fun. Until he stepped over the line with a blasphemous attack on barbeque.
“You can’t swing a dead cow in Kansas City without hitting a famous barbecue joint,” Ostler wrote. “Most discussions and debates among KC citizens and visitors alike revolve around the preferred spelling of barbecue, and the best joints. (Warning: If you are in Kansas City and ask a local to suggest a barbecue ‘restaurant,’ or a vegetarian restaurant, the local will grab your dog and brand him.)”
He also suggested BBQ is the only food available in Kansas City with only the sauce distinguishing one BBQ joint from another. “So yes, culinary preferences are determined by how you like to mix your ketchup and sugar.”
The KC Star’s Jeff Rosen fired back, “Hang onto your self-driving Prius, bucko. You should’ve just kept sipping that Napa vino.”
But Rosen wasn’t done by a long shot.
“You’ve got a skyscraper, Millennium Tower, that’s literally sinking into the earth. Even inanimate objects want out of San Fran ... and we use San Fran purposely, just because we know how much you San Franners love it when outsiders call your city San Fran. Or better yet, Frisco!”
San Franciscans, apparently, also think themselves culinary experts. Maybe that’s because at least one study found that the City by the Bay has more restaurants per capita than any other city in U.S. And some are quite famous, like the Balboa Café, the Tadich Grill – the oldest restaurant in California – and the Cliff House, a grandiose waterside dining spot that has existed in five iterations since it was founded in 1863.
Seafood seems to be a favorite menu item in San Francisco, which may explain the high levels of mercury that apparently floats through the veins of sports columnists who veer out of their lanes. Of course, any red meat found on menus in these elite restaurants must certainly come from local, happy cows and pigs.
But really, it would be unfair to compare Kansas City barbeque with even the best food San Francisco restaurants have to offer. I mean, would you rather have the Tadich Grill’s Thai Style Bouillabaisse? Or a slab of ribs from Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City?
Food, of course, is only a portion of a dining experience. The people are what make a memorable occasion. So I ask you, who would you rather spend an evening with; the folks from Foursight, a boutique Napa Valley winery specializing in Pinot Noir? Or members of these teams from the Kansas City Barbeque Society: Aporkalypse Now; Burnin and Lootin; Pig-Chicka-Cow-Cow; Piglitically Incorrect; or (my personal favorite) Dr. Pearl’s Medicinal Smoke BBQ Team?