On Sunday they will hold the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The weather forecast is for a high of 42 degrees, with showers predicted.
That sounds about right for February in central Indiana. When I lived in Louisville, I could always count on the temperature warming up a few degrees as I headed south on I-65.
This is no region for the Super Bowl. I know, the game is going to be held in a dome. And I have no stake in personal comfort, since I am not going.
But still, doesn’t the National Football League have a responsibility to present a warm, sunny spectacle, all week, to the millions of winter-bound fans in the United States and Europe and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere?
The N.F.L. is trying to spread the game and the riches, but this is a grim, limited vision. They’ve got the Super Bowl coming to New Jersey in 2014. The weather has been gorgeous this winter – I was working out in shorts the other day – but a blizzard is guaranteed for 2014.
Homebound Super Bowl viewers deserve to turn on the game and see fans in comfortable outfits, outdoors, enjoying themselves. This sight warms the soul, makes us realize that spring will be arriving.
What’s the best bowl of all – the granddaddy of them all, as Keith Jackson put it? The Rose Bowl, of course. Even if it’s chilly in Pasadena, it’s still southern California; it makes us feel good.
As it happens, I covered three of the coldest Super Bowls ever.
Super Bowl XVI in a dome in Pontiac, Mich., in 1982 was marked by Vice President George H.W. Bush choosing to arrive near game time, snarling traffic. The media bus driver had to let us off, to scramble across a frozen field to get to the dome.
Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis in 1992 was not terribly inconvenient, since the dome is right downtown. My vivid memory of extracurricular activity that week was watching people carve ice sculptures with power saws at a winter carnival in St. Paul.
Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta in 2000 was a farce. The roads were icy, and our friends had to cancel a house party because nobody could drive to the suburbs. We spent one day before the game sitting by the window in our hotel room, watching Southerners try to drive on ice – they would go too slow up the hill, then accelerate coming off the hill, and crash into light stanchions and fences along the interstate. This, too, is spectator sport, probably no more dangerous than the brain-bashing that goes on in the actual game.
Nasty weather at Super Bowl sites is inconvenient for the people in the Super Bowl town, and for fans who spend fortunes to attend. Who really cares about the travails of visiting sportswriters?
But the N.F.L. should think of the people back home. In the yawning time before the actual game, the TV audience deserves to see shots of warm and happy fans, strolling the streets, giving us hope that one day soon we, too, can wear shorts outdoors.
The N.F.L. needs to go back to a southern strategy – Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California – not so much for the people attending but for the people watching.
Do you agree? Comments welcome.