The Art of Sport

On Sunday, here in America, we will once again witness the most important and relevant cultural event of our time.Yes, that’s right, the Super Bowl.


Like the ancient Greek Theater at the side of the Acropolis fused with the sport of a Roman Coliseum, our entire civilization gathers around to watch, post, tweet and enjoy the awesome spectacle. The art of ads combined together with the rough game is a melding unlike any other since antiquity.


Moreover, no other form of art and sport garners as much deserved fascination and media attention as the unveiling of new spots on Super Sunday.


While it might seem incompatible to have two such opposing forms fused into one event like the Super Bowl, it’s indicative of our culture. Noble Gladiators on the one hand trying to kill each other, juxtaposed with the best pop art of our time. It’s pop art, which, by the way, costs over $5-million a pop for 30 seconds of national airtime.


And while it might seem a distant, event far removed from Israel and the Middle East, once again Israel will be represented – this time with a spot promoting Wix with some help from Po and the gang from Kung Fu Panda, which opened in the US last weekend.


In the midst of both a national Presidential election here in America, where it has been said that we are two countries and a house divided, what an event like the Super Bowl can teach us is that one house can’t live without the other.


The commercials (art) needs the platform (game) no different than editorial needs advertising and theaters and museums require corporate sponsors. Indeed, some of those sponsors that bring us high culture are the same ones airing those 30 seconds of Super Bowl artistry.


Likewise, just as our tumultuous, often violent world needs business and commerce (Israel or Baltimore), it also requires art and theater to humanize it. On an individual level we’re all like either city where turmoil exists — the rational us and the emotional us, left brain/right brain, animus/anima. That’s why Super Sunday has such broad appeal.


Furthermore, like archeologists watching Super Bowl commercials, we can see human history before our eyes.


Even before the warriors arise from the underworld from within the caverns of the stadium, the real show begins around noon. That’s when the pre-game starts and the ads start rolling. And if we delve anthropologically deeper into that hidden netherworld and try to uncover its artifacts, we find a great deal about our culture and ourselves.


We can see relics of old sock puppets that have become extinct and disappeared long gone to the dot-com graveyard. Digging ever more we’ll find remnants from Pepsi and old credit cards from Visa. And at the core will be Apple’s 1984 commercial, when ads on super Sunday became as big as the game itself. Like the tasting of one of Proust’s madeleines, all of the past is remembered up upon seeing Sunday’s carte du jour of commercials.


Sunday will give us the chance to experience not only the 50-years of Super Bowl history, but the culture of both Rome and Greece all at the same time Gladiators doing battle within the coliseum, while viewing some of the best copywriters from our post-modern theater during the breaks.


Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at [email protected]