Thursday, 5 February 2009

Hyperbole rhymes with Super Bowl, right?

It was with some disappointment that, during an English lesson some years ago, I discovered that the word hyperbole actually does not rhyme with Super Bowl. The two are made for one another: one is a phrase concerned with exaggeration and overblown pomp, while the other is pronounced ‘hy-per-bol-ee.’

Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII provided a spectacle in more ways than one. An absorbing encounter that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers crowned champions for an unprecedented sixth time was just one aspect of an event globally unique for its unapologetically monumental sense of ceremony.

American football truly overshadows its European counterparts away from the field. Whereas I spent my last half-time break at Ninian Park with a cup of hot Bovril, the crowd at Tampa were treated to a Bruce Springsteen concert. With fireworks.

Meanwhile, on the pitch, seeing defence players (I suppress the urge to use ‘defenders’) whoop and holler their role in an incomplete attack was particularly novel. The image of Gary Neville throwing high-fives and bumping chests with fellow defenders after thwarting an opposition player’s effort on goal is one difficult to conjure.

It may well be America’s showpiece event but even a century of FA Cup finals would fall dismally short of the pomp generated by just one Super Bowl. Announcers at the Raymond James Stadium introduced songs from warbling R’n’B acts as tributes to “our beautiful country”, while army generals were paraded before the crowd. A shoddy rendition of Jerusalem this was not.

The BBC did their best to douse the event’s roaring sense of occasion with their choice of presenter, Jake Humphrey. Familiar to many as “that lanky one from CBBC who presented the Olympics”, Humphrey bolstered his reputation as the corporation’s purveyor of naff by calling touchdowns “tries” and referring to players by their first names.

Unfortunately for viewers in the UK, Humphrey’s presenting will be the only feature of this particular evening’s entertainment on show on our screens in the near future.

As written for Leeds Student 6.2.2009

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