FLINT - There are a lot of silly Super Bowl "traditions" that I would eliminate if I were in charge.
First, you have the Roman numerals. Why in the world is an English-speaking country 2,000 years after the fall of the Roman Empire using Roman numerals in the name of a football game? I'll bet even Julius Caesar would think that's goofy.
"What, you don't have your own numbering system? And why pick ours? I always thought it was a bit clunky myself - all those letters that you have to translate into numbers. Are we spelling or counting here?"
I know why they do it - they think it gives the game more class. But it's football not cricket. A game that features grown men gouging each others' eyes out and performing silly little dances when they tackle someone doesn't require class. Slapping Roman numerals on a football game is like selling foam fingers at the symphony.
I know those of you who paid attention during the Roman numerals segment back in middle school probably like it, but I'd rather not have to do a Google search every year to find out what Super Bowl I'm watching. Besides, I think a lot of people just pretend to know Roman numerals. And if you don't agree, this year's Super Bowl is XLVI. Quick - what is that?
I've also never understood why the Super Bowl pregame show is so long. This year it starts at noon, six full hours before the game, and the game itself will take another three. When's the last time you watched nine straight hours of TV? It's ridiculous. The last thing the world needs is another weepy up close and personal report about how Killer McGonzoid overcame a speech impediment when he was young and can now scream "Red dog! Red dog! Red dog!" without stuttering.
Then there's the half-time show, which is always some big music industry star. I've never liked this trend.
They're always terrible, and besides, who decided that you can't have a sporting event without a rock concert in the middle of it? Jocks don't toss around balls on stage during the intermission of concerts do they? Give me a marching band at half-time any day.
And then there are the two dumbest Super Bowl traditions of all: the post-game phone call from the president and the subsequent White House visit.
I don't know when the phone call started - it sounds like the kind of thing Carter would do - but it's time to end it. It used to seem impromptu and heartfelt. These days, it's scripted on both ends and you know the president either dreads it or only views it as an opportunity to show everyone what a regular guy he is, which in and of itself is an odd thing to want to prove. Who wants a regular guy as president? Don't they spend millions each campaign telling us how special they are?
The White House visit by the winning team is just as bad. It used to seem charming, in a way, that the most powerful man in the world would take the time to pose for photos with a bunch of guys with thick necks and bad suits.
But it, too, has been overdone. The president is now expected to meet with the winners of the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and probably a dozen other minor sports that I'm not aware of. You can tell the thrill is gone even for him.
He looks as happy to meet with them as he is to issue a pardon to the Thanksgiving turkey. So why bother?
If the president stopped inviting jocks to the White House we'd be spared the tiresome controversy - which is also becoming a tradition of sorts - whereby a member of the visiting team refuses to join his teammates because he disagrees with the president's politics.
That strikes me as both rude and opportunistic. The jocks who do it, I'm betting, would never act that childishly in their personal lives. People don't often behave that way normally. (I, for instance, have numerous conservative friends, and I don't refuse to visit them just because they're wrong on every level about everything.)
But because it's the president they're willing to forego manners. Why? Because they know the media will happily scribble down their bland, dim thoughts about how badly the president is doing his job and broadcast them to millions.
Whenever it happens, I always wonder how they'd feel if the president did that to them. He wouldn't, of course, but maybe he should start.
He could do it during the locker room phone call with the whole world watching: "I couldn't help but notice that you dropped a key pass during the third quarter and fumbled on the way to the end zone during the fourth. I hate to say this in front of so many people, but how is it that you keep your job?"
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.