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Jane Macdougall: The Bookless Club takes in the Super Bowl

Will you be tuning in to America’s “most watched cultural event”?

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So, what are you doing this Sunday?

Yeah, it’s that Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday. I know it’s considered, maybe not ours, but America’s biggest unofficial holiday, but you can still count on people asking you about your plans for the big day.

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Super Bowl Sunday is considered “destination viewing” but it’s just not a destination on my bucket list. Will I watch? I’ll probably catch portions of the broadcast because, regardless of one’s appetite for football, the Super Bowl is still a pretty interesting event.

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At Super Bowl 58, Reba McIntyre will sing the American anthem and I’ll be curious to see if she puts a personal spin on it or sticks by the book.

Usher is the halftime show. Halftime shows are designed to wow ‘em in the upper balconies so expect pyrotechnics, oceans of dancers moving in unison, and probably a novel entry to the stage — a whoosh in from above or a whoosh in from below.

The ads are always worth watching. Air time for one 30-second ad currently runs around $7 million on top of production costs. Super Bowl ads are marketing at its finest. These ads are often controversial, sometimes sensational, and always memorable. The annual clash of the titans is a high stakes event for everyone involved and the rewards are stupendous. How much cash are we talking about? The three big American networks take turns broadcasting the Super Bowl, and ad revenue from this one event is expected to earn CBS something in the $600 million range.

The trophy, in and of itself, is kind of interesting. It turns out that, unlike the Stanley Cup, there are dozens of Super Bowl trophies — one for every year since the inception of the Super Bowl back in 1967. In American football, the winning team gets to keep the trophy and each player gets a miniature version.

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The shiny hunk of metal being vied for this Sunday is known as the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The fabled coach of Green Bay Packers, Lombardi is still considered the greatest football coach of all time. He died at age 57 when the Super Bowl itself was just three years old. The trophy — a regulation sized football on a truncated obelisk — is made by the famous jeweller, Tiffany & Co.

Legend has it that Pete Rozelle, the storied commissioner of the NFL, met with the vice-president of Tiffany to discuss the design of a Super Bowl trophy. The VP, who had little idea about football having grown up in Switzerland, sketched something on a cocktail napkin and — voila! — that was the design that went into production. In memory of the inspirational coach, the Super Bowl Trophy would be renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Vince Lombardi trophy is made from sterling silver and takes silversmiths four months to make. Its monetary value is around $50,000. The miniatures of the trophy that each player gets to keep are valued in the $1,500 range. Super Bowl rings, it turns out, are a kind of in-house keepsake provided by the team to its players and personnel. These are not made by Tiffany & Co. but by the same company that probably made your school ring; a company called Jostens. These rings often crop up in unusual places. There are entire websites devoted to the sale of genuine Super Bowl rings. Vladimir Putin has a New England Patriots Super Bowl ring on display in the Kremlin. The story of how it came to Putin back in 2005 is contentious and riddled with political intrigue.

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Last year’s audience for Super Bowl 57 was 114.2 million people. Those numbers are getting a big boost this year from one of the most highly coveted markets, females aged 18 to 34. This uptick is due to the predicted presence of Taylor Swift at the big game. Ms. Swift will wrap up four nights of concerts at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on Saturday night and is anticipated to fly directly to Las Vegas to attend the Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

Chances of sighting of the world’s biggest recording star is predicted to drive Super Bowl viewership numbers up to dizzying heights. Even if the game itself isn’t enough of a draw, there are dozens of reasons to tune into America’s “most watched cultural event”. And if all that wasn’t enough, now the Super Bowl even features a love story.

Jane Macdougall is a freelance writer and former National Post columnist who lives in Vancouver. She will be writing on The Bookless Club every Saturday online and in The Vancouver Sun. For more of what Jane’s up to, check out her website, janemacdougall.com


This week’s question for readers:

Question: Will you be glued to the game this Sunday? If so, why? If not, why not?

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Send your answers by email text, not an attachment, in 100 words or less, along with your full name to Jane at [email protected]. We will print some next week in this space.


Last week’s question for readers:

Question: What are your thoughts on disposable diapers?

• I was discussing your article about the ‘diaper industrial complex’ with a friend who, as a retired physician, knows a thing or two about babies. She told me her own daughter was following the advice of some online baby expert who insists that toilet training shouldn’t be introduced until the age of two and a half. The physician thought this was absurd so she Googled the ‘expert’ her daughter mentioned. Turns out the expert is on Pampers’ payroll. Diaper industrial complex, indeed!

Cheryl Louie


• There are reusable, washable diapers similar in design and ease of use to disposables, along with Gortex covers to keep the outsides dry. We used these for our twins born in 1999. Laundry was done every two days. For so many reasons, disposable diapers are wrong, but also unnecessary with good cloth products available. When we were finished with the cloth diapers, we passed them on to friends. It didn’t make our toilet training any earlier as we both worked so were less able to be attentive to cues of baby bathroom urges.

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Jane Donaldson


• In the early 90s, I acquired a new Bronco and decided to embark on a road trip to Cabo San Lucas. There was a beautiful coastal highway from Tijuana to Ensenada with signage every 50 feet which read “Non basura” — no littering. I remember thinking this was a bit obsessive. When we got south of Ensenada, I was shocked. It appeared that we were driving through the middle of a garbage dump with mountains and mountains of disposable diapers which stretched for miles. Totally disgusting!

Mike Ronnekleiv


• Having a child is one of the worst actions you can take against the environment? It’s much worse than owning a car, buying plastic items and throwing out garbage (Consumer Reports, November, 1992), because, “virtually every child born into a middle-class American family can look forward to a lifetime of consuming resources and energy, and creating waste and pollution, on a scale unmatched in human history.” And let’s not forget that almost every baby in developed countries uses between 5,000 and 8,000 disposable diapers (Consumer Reports, August, 1998). And that number is climbing even higher as the “potteracy rate” continues to slip.

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Also, thousands of their toys will find their way to the landfills, along with clothes, shoes, furniture, computers, etc. Millions of litres of gasoline will be burned driving each of those children to and from school, sports activities, friends’ homes, etc. And most of those children will grow up to be consuming polluters, just like you and me.

Jerry Steinberg
Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING! (Est. 1984)
The international social club for childfree and childless couples and singles


• I was born during the housing shortage created when construction workers were sent off to the Second World War. With no available housing in Edmonton, Dad (an airframe builder for the war effort) used his talents to build a trailer, 8 by 15 feet outside dimensions. With all the built-ins, everything was within arm’s reach, including me! Mom would nurse me with a tea-cup-size potty between her legs, thus saving a diaper. If grunting in my dresser-drawer bed, she’d again cradle me above the potty and mimic my oof-oof sounds. By the time I was nine months old, we were both trained.

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Lorna (Krahulec) Blake


• My kids, now in their mid-30s to mid-40s, were all diapered in terry towel nappies ordered from Britain — no disposables for me. On a trip from Vancouver to Toronto, my bag of dirty nappies was lost. Probably the only time I laughed over delayed luggage! It was delivered the next day, though I had no doubt that it would have been quickly found.

Julie Halfnights


• When my first child was learning to walk, a British nanny gave me the best advice: get rid of the Pampers during the day and use cloth because unless the child experiences the discomfort of being wet there is no incentive to use the potty.

But the best potty-training happened serendipitously after a fun day with my toddler where we had been playing with plastic mixing bowls and pots and pans, which were still all over the dining room floor. Before bath time it was routine for my baby to run around the house with glee which we called “naked baby time”. That particular day, while she was running through the dining room, she paused, squatted over a bowl, had a quick pee, and then kept running. My husband said that all we had to do was keep her naked and keep plastic bowls in every room of the house! As it turned out, that was the “Aha!” moment for her and she didn’t wear diapers in the daytime again.

Denise Howell

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