Six Days to the Super Bowl. Start Warming the TV With endless commercial breaks and milling around, the Super Bowl is better on television, says Bill Wolff. Here's why.
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Six Days to the Super Bowl. Start Warming the TV

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Six Days to the Super Bowl. Start Warming the TV

Six Days to the Super Bowl. Start Warming the TV

Six Days to the Super Bowl. Start Warming the TV

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18468136/18468105" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

With endless commercial breaks and milling around, the Super Bowl is better on television, says Bill Wolff. Here's why.

ALISON STEWART, host:

So Woods, Federer and Brady - perhaps all the best in their respective sports. Can each be beaten? Well, the recently, the answers in the order are no, yes and we'll see. Tiger Woods brought sexy back to the Golf Channel this weekend, winning the Buick Invitational.

Oh, there was this really good tape we had.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

I wanted to hear how he was bringing sexy back to golf.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: You know what? I'll play that for you at your desk later, Rachel. Oh, we have it now?

MARTIN: Okay, play it. I need to hear it.

STEWART: Wait, I'm going to introduce it again. Ready? Okay?

Tiger Woods brought sexy back to the Golf Channel this weekend, winning the Buick Invitational.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #1: Oh, God.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #1: No. No, no, no, no. That is wrong on so many levels.

STEWART: Because it was so right.

And the youngster was the big winner on the tennis court at the Australian Open.

Mr. NOVAK DJOKOVIC (Professional Tennis Player; Champion, Australian Open): Before this year's start, I said that I wan to win a Grand Slam. This is my highest goal. So I already reached it.

STEWART: That's Novak Djokovic.

And, of course, the Super Bowl hype is starting up.

It's Monday morning, time for BPP's sports chat with Bill Wolff, the resident sports analyst of this show and of my house.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: Because he is my husband.

MARTIN: Hi, Bill.

BILL WOLFF: Just bringing sexy back to sports analysis.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Hey, good luck with that.

All right. Tell me how you sat on the couch last night and you had this epiphany - actually, it was yesterday morning/ And you said there were these three storylines that go together about these three greats in these three different sports: Woods, Federer and Brady.

WOLFF: Tell me that's not sexy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Well, it occurred to me…

STEWART: It's not sexy.

WOLFF: Thank you. It occurred to me that in sports in general these days, parity - or equality among the teams - is the watchword in almost every sport, in college football and pro-football and pro-basketball. It's hard to tell who's going to be the best. Various things about the way they put the teams together, salary caps and drafts and things like that make it so that it's very difficult to stand out above the crowd for any long period of time.

But in the case of men's professional tennis, Roger Federer, men's professional golf, Tiger Woods and professional football, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, what you have is week-after-week, month-after-month, and, in fact, year-after-year, these guys who are so far above the competition that it's not a question of who's going to win. It's simply a question of will the dominant character, you know, extend his run of dominance?

And in the case of Federer, at the Australian Open, you know Roger Federer is the best tennis player in the world and maybe the best tennis player ever - he lost. In the case of Tiger Woods, I think he's the greatest golfer of all time. Not only did he win, he won by, so far, it was kind of - it was even more boring than the usual, Rachel. I mean, really boring. And then in the case of the Patriots, will see, because they play the Giants this week, and this is super hype week.

STEWART: Well, let's break each one down.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: Let's start with golf.

WOLFF: Okay.

STEWART: So it's start of the season, right?

WOLFF: Yup.

STEWART: Can you explain the weather patterns, how that affects the start of the golf season?

WOLFF: Well, there is a golf season. First of all, when I first learned about it, I didn't know there was a golf season.

STEWART: Well, yeah. Don't they just go to Dubai when it rains in North Carolina?

WOLFF: Yeah, exactly. No, there's actually a golf season. It follows the calendar year, and it begins - because it's the winter, it begins in the West. It begins in Hawaii, where it's really warm, and then it moves to California, where it was yesterday in San Diego, and eventually they get to Florida, and then they start to move at north in April when the Masters happens in Georgia, but the golf schedule, where they play, is dictated by the weather. So right now, they're on what's called the West Coast swing. They're in San Diego at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. And Tiger Woods absolutely -in his first tournament of the year - absolutely lapped the field. No one - it wasn't really a contest.

STEWART: I know. You kept pointing at the TV, going nine, eleven.

WOLFF: Yeah, well…

STEWART: Eleven, seven. Like, what was that?

WOLFF: Well, that's how many strokes Tiger Woods was leading by.

STEWART: Oh. Okay.

WOLFF: And he's one of - we've discussed New England Patriots this year as something you had to watch just to witness dominance. Well, every time Tiger Woods plays, you have to watch because you're witnessing dominance and you feel as though, well, I've got to be able to tell my children and grandchildren who asked, yes, I saw Tiger Woods. It's like watching Babe Ruth. The guy is so unbelievably fantastic, so much more athletic than any other golfer who ever played.

STEWART: Why was he was so much farther ahead yesterday than everybody else?

WOLFF: Well, he has - you know, golf courses are all different from one another, as you know, Alison, having been on one or two.

STEWART: Nice play.

WOLFF: Yeah.

MARTIN: And those two were totally different.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Totally different. So, golfers…

STEWART: One had little windmills.

WOLFF: Yeah, exactly. One had an alligator's mouth, yeah.

STEWART: (unintelligible)

WOLFF: Golf courses are all different from one another, and each golfer has his or her own favorites that favor his or her game, where they just like the atmosphere of this one or that one. And Torrey Pines, which is where they're going to be playing the U.S. Open - Torrey Pines in San Diego, a public golf course, is one that Tiger Woods just seems to love. And he just had it together. Every put he struck went in the hole. Every chip that he sort of knock - tried to knock close came very close, and a couple of them actually went in.

He was just absolutely on his game coming out of the gate for the 2008 calendar season, and nobody could touch him. It was a dominant, dominant performance, suggesting that he, once again, will be the top player in the world. And the question will be how many of these so-called majors or Grand Slam events will he win? No one - he hasn't won four in the same year, and this might be the year. So everybody's talking about will…

STEWART: Yeah.

WOLFF: …Tiger Woods ever lose this year?

STEWART: Let's look forward to the - I mean, let's look at the 2008 Australian Open.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: The youngest player to win the open in 22 years, this young Serb, Novak.

WOLFF: Yup.

STEWART: He's happen to share his (unintelligible), sharing his glory with Roger Federer's headline that, oh, Federer lost.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: But, in your opinion, which is a bigger story? This 20-year-old's win or Federer's loss?

WOLFF: Well, I hate to say it, because you always want to credit the champion and the champion earned it. So Novak Djokovic, the first Serb ever to win a major, deserves, you know, enormous amount of credit. And part of the reason people play is they want the recognition, and he certainly deserves it.

But Roger Federer, like Tiger Woods, is so much better than every other tennis player that when he loses, particularly when he loses in a major - and the Australian Open is the first of the four grand slam events - when Roger Federer loses, that's the story.

You know, if the New England Patriots lose on Sunday and if Tiger Woods loses a golf tournament, the story is that the dominant entity, which is expected to win, has lost. That's the story.

So Federer losing, I think, generally, sports fans, mainstream sports fans who consume a lot of this stuff, the story for most people is that Roger Federer did not win the Grand Slam rather than Novak Djokovic did win the grand slam. Pity for him, but until Federer shows some more consistent signs of not being the dominant player, every time he loses, that will be the story.

STEWART: And for the record, Maria Sharapova won her third Grand Slam title.

WOLFF: Yes.

STEWART: Just so we want to…

WOLFF: Indeed. She's more than just a person who sells jewelry and perfume.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: And the great that we don't know whether or not he'll perform is Tom Brady…

WOLFF: Yup.

STEWART: …of the New England Patriots, obviously taking on the New York Giants.

WOLFF: Similarly dominant.

STEWART: Yeah. Let's listen to Mr. Brady about what he plans to do.

Mr. TOM BRADY (Quarterback, New England Patriots): And we're going out there for one reason. That one reason is to win and bring a title back to Foxborough.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Mr. BRADY: Go Patriots.

STEWART: All right. So let's just…

WOLFF: Was he talking to the media there?

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Usually, the media doesn't cheer like that.

STEWART: I don't think so.

WOLFF: Huh.

STEWART: Check this out.

WOLFF: Good interview. I've never done one that good.

STEWART: Asking prices for the February 3rd game range from $2,450 to $19,000 on Stub Hub, which is sort of a unit of eBay.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: You've been…

WOLFF: Apparently, the subprime mortgage crisis hasn't hit ticket scalping.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: You have covered Super Bowls.

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: You've been to Super Bowls.

WOLFF: Sure.

STEWART: Sort of - is it worth it? Is it worth $20,000 to go see?

WOLFF: Well, me - if you ask me, no. I think if you ask a Giants fan or a Patriots fan there to witness history, I suppose, yes, it is.

MARTIN: That's why Dan Pashman, producer extraordinaire, keeps working overtime.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Yeah. Tell him I'll lend him 50 bucks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: I don't - to me, the Super Bowl is best enjoyed on television at home. A, you get a better picture of the game. There's just no doubt about it. B, the commercial breaks at a professional football game, and especially the Super Bowl, are amazingly long. So if you're at the game, a lot of the time, you're sitting there - while we're watching the godaddy.com commercial…

STEWART: Yeah.

WOLFF: …you're sitting there watching them mill around doing nothing, so it's incredibly boring. And, C, the - and, C, you miss the commercials, which are the best thing about the Super Bowl, even for a sports fan. And, D, the Super Bowl is so corporatized, it's all giant mega-companies have hospitality tents and they give away the tickets to their best clients or their best sales people for that given year. And so the spirit of a professional sporting event or even a college event that you usually get - partisans going crazy and the energy and the spirit of having fans who love the teams - that's all watered down by the fact that the Super Bowl is something that transcends sports and really is a giant corporate event.

So, I wouldn't pay $4,000. I don't know that I'd pay anything to go to the Super Bowl. Much more fun to stay at home and watch it with your husband or wife.

STEWART: Okay.

MARTIN: And seven-layer bean dip. That's what I make on Super Bowl Sunday.

WOLFF: Exactly right.

STEWART: Now we know what we're doing on Sunday. Hey, Bill Wolff. We'll talk about the game itself later on in the week. You're going to sit in - fill in on Thursday and Friday.

WOLFF: I can't wait.

STEWART: All right. Thanks, hon.

WOLFF: Okay.

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