Is the Super Bowl the biggest event of the sports year, or just the one with the best time slot? Jim Caple and a WB newcomer, his sports photographer friend Rod from Seattle, debate the issue.

JIM: You know why the Super Bowl is so damn popular? Not because it's a good game (it almost never is) or that people are really interested in it -- but because it's played on a Sunday, when most of the country isn't working and it's in the middle of winter when there is absolutely nothing else to do except shovel the driveway and it's on the schedule for months in advance so everyone can plan for it and arrange parties. And it has a week to two weeks of nothing but hype in the papers.

ROD: Ummm, you're wrong.

Super Bowl balloon
Admit it: It's big balloon guys which bring in that worldwide audience.

JIM: Wow. That's insightful. Why are you a photographer when you can write so persuasively?

ROD: You're saying 750 million people have nothing better to do?

JIM: Get real. Where do you get the 750 million figure?

ROD: Um, Google? Hey, I'm a photographer. People just don't walk up to me all day and hand me stats. And that number is television viewers. Estimated worldwide viewership.

JIM: There are, what, 280 million people in this country? And based on average ratings, about 40 percent of them watch the game? So, you're telling me that about 650 million additional people around the world almost six times the number who watch it in the states -- are watching the championship game of a sport they don't even play? Trust me, 750 million do not watch the game.

ROD: Uhhhhhh . . . .

JIM: And they certainly don't watch after halftime.

ROD: Let's get to what really bothers you -- the Super Bowl is a bigger event than anything baseball has to offer.

Dwight Smith
If the Super Bowl is so great, how comes the games -- like last year's 49-26 laugher for the Bucs -- is so often so terrible?

JIM: This isn't a competition. All I'm saying is that the Super Bowl is as hugely popular as it is partly because of when it is played. You play it at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and it gets great ratings, but not the ratings it enjoys now because it's on a Sunday with nothing competing against it. By the same token, you schedule Game 7 of the World Series a couple months in advance, put it on Sunday and have guys like Emeril doing tailgate parties the week leading up to it, and its ratings would be pretty similar. Super Bowl Sunday is a national party day. There's nothing wrong with that. Just don't confuse its ratings with the sport's popularity.

I mean, the people who watch the World Series are NOT watching to see what the commercials will be.

ROD: Uh, yeah, because companies like Coke won't pay millions for World Series spots because NO ONE"S WATCHING!

Now, here are my top five greatest Super Bowl commercials.

JIM: Let's not get side-tracked . . .

ROD: 1. MJ and Bird play 1-on-1 (totally toasts the Pepsi one between Sosa and Giambi).

JIM: You're going off on a tangent.

ROD: 2, Mean Joe Greene for Coke (required more Kleenex than "Brian's Song").

JIM: Will you stop and listen to me?

ROD: 3. Ali Landry Doritos fling (required more Kleenex than the Mean Joe Greene for Coke ad)

Miller Lite catfight
Rod, be honest: We know your real No. 1 favorite Super Bowl commercial.

JIM: Knock it off!

ROD: 4. Apple 1984 (great ad, lousy sales.)

JIM: Arrrgggghhhh!!!

ROD: 5. (millions of Americans wept through the second half of the game, realizing that their entire livelihoods had been reduced to a 30-second ad).

JIM: OK, are you done? You just argued my point for me. The World Series is about the game. The Super Bowl is about wretched excess.

ROD: My top five greatest World Series commercials.

JIM: Noooooo!!!!!!

ROD: 1. The promo for that new Fox sitcom.

2. The promo for that new Fox drama.

3. The promo for that new Fox reality show.

4. That Tom Emanski instructional video.

5. The promo for the next game of the World Series.

JIM: God, will you let me get a word in edgewise?

ROD: No. The only thing the Super Bowl needs to be totally super is a permanent home.

Bill Belichick
Yes, the Super Bowl is riveting television, especially those Bill Belichick news conferences.

JIM: You're missing my point --

ROD: I've got it. Super Bowl Stadium in Las Vegas!!! Think of the potential -- every year the world gathers in Las Vegas for the biggest sporting event. Five thousand luxury suites! It would truly become the biggest spectacle in sports. Baseball wouldn't have a chance. Bud Selig would want to copy the idea, but he'd build World Series Stadium in Omaha, or Williamsport -- you know because of the "tradition" of baseball. Baseball needs to get with the times. By the way, do you have Paul Tagliabue's number? I need to call him. Were you trying to say something?

JIM: Yes, but YOU'RE not listening. And you would need 20,000 luxury suites, not 5,000, to hold all the corporate rats who make up the Super Bowl "fans.''

ROD: Maybe those "corporate rats," as you call them, go to the Super Bowl because they can't get seats at the World Series since they've all been taken by "the stars'' of Fox's new drama, "The Bitterly Divorced Bachelorette." Which brings me to my top 10 reasons why the Super Bowl is better than the World Series.

JIM: We're NOT going to do this.

ROD: Yes, we are. Number 1. It's SUPER, not "worldly." Hell, Leif Erickson was worldly. The game is super the same way supermodels are SUPER.

JIM: If it's so super, why are the Carolina Panthers playing in it?

ROD: If the series is so worldly, why is the only international team that's ever been in it from Canada?

JIM: Grrrllllllll.

ROD: Number 2, Scantily-clad cheerleaders on the field.

JIM: Yeah, but some of them are MALE cheerleaders on the field.

BOTH: Not that there's anything wrong with that.

ROD: Number 3, Not only are there cheerleaders on the field, there are supermodels wrestling in their underwear in the commercials.

JIM: I concede this point. I guess that does trump Pudge Rodriguez kissing Ugueth Urbina.

Red Sox fans
At least in the Super Bowl, Boston fans are cheering instead of crying.

ROD: Number 4, Boston gets its championship, since the "other" Boston team always chokes.

JIM: Yeah, but the Patriots defense wouldn't be able to stop Don Zimmer.

ROD: Number 5, The halftime show a Rock concert AND a football game? That's like having large screen plasma TV showing the game at a strip bar.

JIM: No, it's not a rock concert. It's Janet Jackson and Britney and nsynch and Shania Twain. That's like spending New Year's Eve with your parents and your nieces.

ROD: That was last year. And I'd much rather look at Britney than Roseanne Barr or some Metropolitan opera guy singing the seventh inning stretch, that's for sure. Nelly and Kid Rock are performing at halftime this year. And "Mr. Baseball" -- and I'm not referring to violent relief pitcher Jeff Nelson and former Met Daryl Strawberry.

JIM: Whose rear is larger, Beyonce, Roseanne or Melvin Tuten?

ROD: How can you say that about Melvin?

JIM: You're right. My apologies. He's not in their weight class.

ROD: Number 6, Whoever wins the Super Bowl will truly be the WORLD CHAMPS. Baseball's champs are champs...of North America. But hey, that includes Canada. So you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

JIM: The Super Bowl winners may be able to say they're world champs, but they won't even be able to figure out what year they won it. "Let's see, we won Super Bowl XXXXIIVC or something like that. Not sure what year it was.''

ROD: Whatever. Number 7, at least with the Super Bowl, you only have to worry about seeing a promo for a lame Fox TV show every third year.

Lingerie Bowl
It's all about the football. Really.

JIM: But every third year, there's a chance Terry Bradshaw will sing a duet with Paul McCartney.

ROD: Number 8, I'm pretty sure Tom Brady won't step away from the center, remove his chin strap, reattach it, clean his shoes, adjust his cup, pull on his sleeve, and spit BETWEEN EVERY SNAP.

JIM: No, we'll just have a 30-minute break in the middle of the game to watch nsynch. Personally, I'd rather see Brady spit.

ROD: By the way, it's spelled *NSYNC and they played last year. And it worries me just a little that you know that.

JIM: It worries me that you can spell *NSYNC.

ROD: Google. My best friend. And can I say two words? Clay Aiken. He sang the national anthem at the World Series last year. So get off your high horse. Now, where was I? Number 9, This year, we won't have to hear Kurt Warner proselytize!

JIM: Yeah, but that Brenda Warner is always right around the corner....!

ROD: Number 10, The Lingerie Bowl.

JIM: True, but baseball could crush it with the Lingerie Series.

ROD: Yes, but why be the Lingerie Champs of North America when you can be the champs of the whole WORLD?!


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