Thursday, January 25, 2001

Super Bowl

Alternative event for anti-jocks

        Even I, an anti-jock, can see a certain majesty in the game of football. A gallant wide receiver, leaping, straining toward the ball, heedless of the hundreds of pounds of men who might take that moment to rearrange important bones in his outstretched frame.

        And my dad taught me to appreciate the choreography of a good play. “Just beautiful,” he'd say.

        So I can understand passion for the grand finale this Sunday. The Super Bowl is not just a game. No more than the Kentucky Derby is just a horse race.

        It's a very big deal. CBS has 33 cameras and 90,000 feet of fiber-optic cable devoted just to instant replays. The network has been selling 30-second commercial spots for an average of $2.4 million.

        I just wish I had the Dorito and Budweiser concession for my neighborhood.

A tiny audience

        More than 130 million people are expected to watch at least part of the game. You would certainly do your best if you were one of those guys out on the field. Plus they get paid a lot of money to be there.

        More of a challenge might be to play your heart out for a tiny audience, say, children between the ages of 3 and 12. Maybe 400 of them on a good day. Make this a small but extremely vocal audience, one that might cry if they don't like your performance.

        This takes a lot of nerve.

        Jared VanAlstyne, who looks buff enough to be a linebacker, has chosen instead to be an actor. With puppets. He's in Madcap Productions' Cincinnati presentation of Rapunzel, competing this weekend with the CBS presentation of Super Bowl XXXV.

        OK, this is a stretch, I know. Completely different dramas. And there is no way to work out a point spread between the wicked witch and the miller's daughter. But this guy plays his heart out.

        And who does not admire heart? Sometimes it's just more obvious in athletics. Jockey Steve Cauthen back in the saddle after a nearly crippling fall. Nosetackle Tim Krumrie back on the field after his leg snapped in spectacular fashion in Super Bowl XXIII.

        But there's also the chef who makes the daily special just a little more special than you thought it might be. The teacher who buys school supplies with her own money. Mr. Pig at Findlay Market, who believes he is serving up the best barbecued ribs on the Planet Earth.

        No matter who is in the audience. No matter the financial stakes. The Baltimore Ravens' left tackle Jonathan Ogden, for instance, will make $16.5 million this season.

No ticket scalpers

        Sometimes the kids ask Jared how much money he makes. I do not have enough nerve to do the same, but I am guessing it is less than $16.5 million. This Sunday he will be working as hard to put a smile on little faces as New York's Kerry Collins and Baltimore's Trent Dilfer are to put a Super Bowl ring on their fingers.

        You just won't see it. Unless, of course, you have $8 for yourself and $6 for your favorite kid and 50 minutes to spare. Shows are at 1 and 3 p.m. at the Cincinnati Art Museum. You can call 721-ARTS for reservations, although last year on Super Bowl Sunday, a rich assortment of seats remained available.

        Free parking at the Art Museum. No scalpers. No commercial breaks. But you still get to see young people playing their hearts out. And still younger people cheering them as if they were spiking balls in the end zone.

       E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


State of the State
Excerpts of the State of the State address delivered Wednesday by Gov. Bob Taft.
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Taft's honeymoon could be over
Taft's initiatives
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- PULFER: Super Bowl
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Tristate A.M. Report