Super Game, Super Week

 By Dan Spehler

PRE-GAME: There were many highlights amidst NBC’s five hours of pre-game coverage, incorporating correspondents from many of NBC’s cable partners. We walked past the Giants hotel as NBC’s Peter King reported on the team’s pre-game activities.

One of the best moments came around 1:30 p.m. when the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore tried the zip-line live on TV – “zipping” right past the NBC stage in Super Bowl village. However, as we walked past the NBC pre-game stage, it was not easy to see what was actually going on – there was thick glass between the fans and the NBC team of Bob Costas and Aaron Rodgers, and no TV monitors showing the crowd what was on the air.

The ESPN pre-game stage had a much different feel. As you’ll see in the video I’ve posted, thousands of fans swarmed Pan Am Plaza where the ESPN Countdown crew broadcasted live. The ESPN gang even came outside to give their Super Bowl predictions, interacting with fans throughout (By the way, all of them picked the Giants, except Chris Berman).

ESPN and NBC talent could be seen all over town Super Bowl weekend, along with many other celebrities from the world of football and entertainment. There was a festive atmosphere in the lobbies of the ESPN hotel (Hyatt) and NBC hotel (Omni) on Saturday night, where we saw the likes of Evander Holyfield and Danny DeVito – even Subway Jared was there. On Sunday, we ran into NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on his way to the stadium.

The game itself drew a record TV audience (111.3 million viewers), and the atmosphere in Indianapolis was electric on game day. By kickoff, everyone had settled in for the national anthem – fans arrive early to the Super Bowl so they don’t miss a minute of the pre-game action.

HALFTIME: By now, we’ve all seen/ heard about this year’s halftime controversy. Rapper M.I.A. gave those 111 million viewers the middle finger during her halftime cameo with Madonna, forcing both NBC and the NFL to apologize, while M.I.A. herself has stayed mostly silent. I’m guessing the NFL will never ask her back for another Super Bowl performance. No doubt, this will remind many of the incident eight yeas ago, with Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.” Madonna herself promised no wardrobe malfunctions during  the Super Bowl press conference on Thursday, and I can only imagine her displeasure with M.I.A. for injecting this bit of controversy into what was otherwise an impressive halftime production.

POST-GAME: People across Indy were cheering the Giants’ dramatic victory. The song “Empire State of Mind” could be heard in the stadium, and in bars across town. As always, the field was swarmed by the players’ family members, and thousands of reporters and photographers seeking post-game interviews.

Two interviews didn’t happen – including Bill Belichick, who was not seen on TV after the game. Typically, the losing coach will grant a post-game interview – but the Patriots coach has never been known for his accessibility.

Also, the Super Bowl MVP had been slated to appear on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” but for unknown reasons, Eli Manning did not appear on the show, which has been originating from Indy all week. Instead, three defensive players from the Giants took the stage to replace him.

As we left town, we saw thousands standing in line to be in the audience for Fallon’s show. My wife and I were in the audience for his Wednesday show – and it was a real treat. The appeal of the Super Bowl also helped Fallon produce his highest-rated show in history on Sunday night, which goes to show how the broadcasting network can parlay the Super Bowl broadcast into a broader promotional strategy.

My station is a CBS affiliate (we have the game next year), so we didn’t do nearly as much Super Bowl coverage as many of the NBC affiliates I saw in town from stations across the Midwest, and around the country. But it was still a thrill to be in my old home town for several days. Indy put on a great show, and it’s quite likely they’ll get the game again one day. By then, many of you sports management/ journalism students will be working in the field too – and I hope to see you there!

Editor’s Note: Dan Spehler is a BGSU alumnus who majored in broadcast journalism, and took part in Dick Maxwell’s NFL Sport Media & Management class. Spehler has worked since 1999 as an anchor/reporter at TV stations across Ohio & Indiana, including WTVG & WUPW in Toledo, WDTN in Dayton, and WRTV in Indianapolis. He currently works as a reporter/anchor at WKRC in Cincinnati.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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