It started with the national anthem and went down hill from there. Super Bowl XLV. The half time show was undercut by a sound person and director that apparently had not been to rehearsal, and by the usual hype beforehand that can only lead to a let down. Will someone tell Usher that he is NOT Michael Jackson no matter how many times he grabs his crotch, and if you're going to invite Slash to the party, will you at least let him play the guitar?
Ah yes, there was a game, which after attending some 18 Super Bowls I have to tell you has become a bigger after-thought every year. This one deserved it. While the game was competitive, you can say the same thing about the Chicago-Detroit game during the regular season. Competitive is not what you're hoping for, outstanding is. This was not.
If Green Bay is the best team in the NFL, then this game should have been a laugher. Served up three turnovers and building a 21 to 3 lead a great team, heck, even a very good team, would have put a stake into the heart of the opposition. It did not. Could not.
On the other hand, if the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger were a team of destiny, if he were as much a 'gamer' as he is made out to be, then with the ball in his hands and just under two minutes to go he would have driven the length of the field and won the game. Others have done it. The greats have done it. He did not.
And speaking of greats, while you wish no one ill, weren't you just a little satisfied that one of the great egos of all time, Jerry Jones, didn't quite get the Super Bowl he wanted so badly? His team wasn't in it, the weather did him dirty, and no, he didn't break the attendance record. We're sorry Jerry. Sort of. It only cost him a billion dollars.
But the Super Bowl isn't the only sports related event taking place in the world this week. You likely didn't know it, but an event of equal stature and, some would hope, greater significance took place in Abu Dhabi just as the Super Bowl after parties were wrapping up in Wisconsin on Monday morning. The event is the Laureus World Sports Awards.
To quickly end the suspense, Rafael Nadal was named the 'World Sportsman of the Year'. He edged out soccer stars Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. The Spanish World Cup championship squad walked away with the 'World Team of the Year' trophy. The 'Sportswoman of the Year' is skier Lindsey Vonn. Surfer Kelly Slater won his third 'Laureus Action Sports Award' and Martin Kaymer was presented with the 'Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award' for his PGA Championship win.
So what's the big deal? It's simple, but to 'get it' you have to first understand that the world is a much bigger place outside Cowboys Stadium. A mediocre football game played by two flawed teams is not the center of the universe, not even the sports one.
What you hope is that Laureus, as in laurel wreath, is what sports could be all about. It is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport and uses that power to better the lives of not only sports participants, but non participants as well. The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela. You know, the guy who used that rugby team to help unite a country. There are 46 members of the Laureus Sports Academy, world renowned athletes past and present, led by Edwin Moses. A man some would say is following in the footsteps of Arthur Ashe. Along with giving out awards, Laureus supports nearly 80 sports projects in 31 countries around the world, in places like Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland, using sports to help quell violence and teach children that there is a better way. All part of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. What a concept.
I suppose it's easy to snipe away at the Super Bowl and the NFL when held up in comparison to an organization like Laureus. It's fun, but that's not really the point. The point is that if you're a sports fan, or just a human being, you should be aware of both. Held virtually simultaneously thanks to the time difference, we're consumed by one and have never heard of the other. Now you have.
Vince Lombardi is oft quoted as saying, 'Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.' He didn't say that. What he did say is something like this, 'Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win, and trying your hardest to win, is.'
Vince Lombardi could have been a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy. He understood the value of sport. Let's all remember that when they lift the trophy with his name on it high above their heads in Green Bay this week.