Unless your team wins or your bets pay off, the Super Bowl is almost never as super as it's hyped to be. This year, with 26 seconds left, much of the joy was sucked out of the game by a strange goal-line pass and interception that made the outcome seem goofy and arbitrary. America is left with the empty feeling that we wasted a billion collective hours on something not quite worth it -- the Dexter or How I Met Your Mother finale of professional sports.
The solution is to go bigger. Football is the only major professional sport with a single-game championship. And any single NFL game including the Super Bowl is likely to fall short of greatness. But a multi-game NFL Championship Series would be impractical as well as brutal for the players. So go just a little bigger -- make the Super Bowl six quarters long.
A six-quarter Super Bowl would have 50 percent more football and double the halftimes. It would take about five hours. New records would be set in just about every category. Who wouldn't want to watch a Super Bowl with a final score of 73 to 68? (Nobody you'd want to know.) If the game is tied after six quarters, make both teams champions. They had co-champions in this year's National Spelling Bee. Football players take good spellers' lunch money -- why not take the possibility of co-champions?
The sheer bigness of a gridiron marathon would leave us punch-drunk and feeling that we'd really been through something, regardless of the actual quality of the game. By national agreement, we would be excused from the first two hours of work or school on post-Super Bowl Monday -- the Super Bowl is already one of our biggest unofficial holidays -- we could make it semi-official.
An enlarged Super Bowl would show the rest of the world that we're not afraid to go big -- a shock-and-awe campaign without expensive and inconvenient bunker-buster bombs and invasions. And just imagine the counter-programming -- not just Puppy and Kitten Bowls, but also Bunny, Piglet, Penguin, Wombat and Baby Hedgehog Bowls.
But wouldn't six quarters of football be exhausting and dangerous for the players? Well, how about this: out of the additional $200 million in ad revenue a super-sized Super Bowl would bring in, each player gets another $100,000 for two extra quarters of work. (That's equivalent to a salary of $3.2 million for a 16-game season.) And each team gets to draft five extra players from the rest of the NFL to help out in the game -- just no quarterbacks or kickers. And if you really want to go nuts, teams that go to the Super Bowl are excused from a pre-season game in the following season. Nobody wants to play those, right?
An economy-sized Super Bowl would be slightly more likely to be won by the better team. You don't think that more playing time leads to a more legit outcome? Then how come the NHL, MLB and NBA Championships are up to seven games long? And in a longer game, the impact of any iffy call or fluky play would be proportionately reduced.
C'mon -- let's make the Super Bowl the Super Bowl-and-a-Half. We don't have much time left -- there are only about 35 more Super Bowls before robots and genetic engineering and safety concerns shut down the NFL or make it too weird to care about.
The Super Bowl is our last fun holiday before the bummer holidays of Valentine's and Groundhog Day. We deserve more of it. And while we're at it, let's add an extra Halloween.