$uper Bowl $unday

by Bob Sparrow

     There is no sporting event in America that is more hyped than the hyperbole-named Super Bowl. ‘Super’ is an adjective that describes something extraordinary, but this year’s game, with a total of one touchdown, wasn’t  so super; and maybe all that surrounded it wasn’t either, but at least all that surrounds it is excessive.

Show Me the Ads

Those who may not know one end of the football from the other (don’t be fooled, they’re both the same) will pay most attention when the game stops and the advertisements begin. The ads are typically interesting and creative, and well they should be since they now cost over $5 million for a 30-second spot – a price that has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. So now viewers get up and go to the bathroom when it’s 3rd and 1 and stay put during the time outs when the commercials run. You might ask yourself, what are those companies that spend that kind of money thinking? Here’s what. Last year 111 million people watched the Super Bowl, as compared to the second most-watched event on television, the Oscars, which had a paltry 33 million. In advertising, sometimes it’s not just to get someone to buy your product, but to show the world that you are big and strong and can afford $5mm for a 30-second ad, so they trust your company.  But probably the most compelling reason is that those 111 million people are all watching the game ‘live’, not on a recording where they can zip through the commercials; additionally the reputation of the ads has grown such that people can’t wait to see what creative thing advertisers have come up with. But does it increase sales? In certain circumstances, but mostly companies do it because they can, and they want people to know that they are a strong enough company that they can piss away $5,000,000 in 30 seconds.

Show Me the Bets

Want to make that $5mm seem like chump change?  Take a guess at how much is wagered on the Super Bowl this year. The total won’t be finalized until after the game, but last year the American Gaming Association, a casino lobbying group, estimated that Americans bet a grand total of $4.76 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’!  About 50% of that is bet on the outcome of the game and the other 50% on ‘prop bets’ or proposition bets. Here’s a small sampling of some ‘prop bets’ that YOU could have bet on.

– How long will it take Gladys Knight to sing the National Anthem

– Will any player kneel during the Anthem

– Will the opening coin toss be a head or a tail

– Will the referee get the first replay call correct

– Will Tom Brady be seen cursing during the live broadcast

– If there is a streaker, who will tackle him first – security, player, coach, other

– Color of liquid dumped on winning coach

– What will the S&P 500 close at on Monday if the Rams win? If the Patriots win?

Trust me, there’s a bet for every bettor.

Show Me the Money

But what about the poor players, you say, who can’t bet on the game? Well, they’ll be just fine thank you – every member of the Patriots, including backup quarterback, Brian Hoyer, who didn’t even step onto the field, gets $112,000 for their days work on Sunday. Each Rams player gets $56,000. Those numbers are the same for the coaches of each team as well. Oh yeah, the Patriots also gets a ring worth about $40,000.

It is not disclosed how much referees make for any one game, but they have an average annual salary, for working one day a week, of $205,000; although the ref that made the ‘no call’ in the Rams-Saints game will probably be getting unemployment insurance money instead next season.

Yes, I could have put in a photo of a ref or a waterboy, but they don’t do ‘special corporate appearances’

NFL waterboys make an average of $53,000 per year; they squirt water in the player’s mouths and hang on to their sweaty towels, but they do get a pretty good sideline view of every game. And what about the Cheerleaders? The Internet says, “Cheerleaders earn somewhere between $75 to $150 per game and might make as much as $50 an hour for special corporate appearances”. So that’s what they’re calling it now, ‘special corporate appearances’.

Guys, sorry to say that the season is over, it’s time to get your butts off the couch and get out and earn some of that money you blew on those stupid ‘squares’ at your Super Bowl party.

A Birthday Tribute to Our Brother, the ‘Other’ Jack Sparrow

by Bob Sparrow

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Jack, blowing out not quite 75 candles

A party was held in our home last week to celebrate the 75th birthday of our brother, Jack Sparrow. He is not only my brother, but my best friend and has been since right after he broke my arm. I was 12, he was 14 and like most brothers we’d have an occasional difference of opinion; fights never lasted too long as he was much bigger and stronger than me, but I was of the opinion that it ‘wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it was the size of the fight in the dog’. Yeah, well that philosophy didn’t work out so well on this occasion when I thought I was going to land a big ‘haymaker’ right on his chin, when he put up his arm and blocked it. My forearm hurt for several days after and when I finally went to the doctor and had it x-rayed, my arm was found to be broken. That was our last fight.

Jack BB

6’4″ center at Novato High School

Later that same year, he entered high school and was a three-sport letterman for the next four years. Not just a letterman, he was good . . . real good. I idolized him, he was the best athlete I had ever seen and the great thing about it was he didn’t treat me like a ‘bothersome little brother’, he always had time to work with me to teach me to throw a baseball and football and shoot a basketball.

In his senior year he was 6’4” and 180 pounds – great size in 1959. Aside from getting good grades and being student body president, he stood out in every sport he played.  In basketball, at the center position, his turnaround jump shot from 15’ and in was an automatic. He was the top scorer and rebounder on the team and amongst the leaders in both categories in the league; he was a unanimous All-League selection. He received scholarship offers to play basketball at a number of West Coast schools.

He was the ace pitcher on the baseball team and an All-League selection, who lead his team to a league championship in his senior year. He had a great fastball and a wicked curve; he threw several one and two-hit ball games and was being talked to by major league scouts to continue his career in baseball.

Jack 3 QBs

College of Pacific quarterback

But his love was football. At quarterback he had a rifle arm, could run extremely well and was a great on-the-field leader of the team. In his four years of high school football, he lost only 4 games. Back in 1959 there was a North-South Shrine game, where top high school seniors from Northern California played against the top seniors from Southern California in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the summer following their senior year. Jack was selected to play in that game along with two other quarterbacks from the North, Daryle Lamonica, who was headed to Notre Dame and ultimately a great career with the Oakland Raiders, and Bill Munson, who was headed to Utah State and later drafted in the first round by the Rams and played 16 seasons in the NFL for various teams. Needless to say, it was a very tough competition for the starting quarterback spot. Guess who worked his ass off and was named the starting quarterback for the North? Yep, Capt. Jack; and they won the game!

I was a sophomore during Jack’s senior year and was in awe of the college football coaches and recruiters from all across the country who sat in our living room trying to convince Jack to go to their school. He ultimately chose College of Pacific in Stockton, the school his high school coach had attended and at the time, had a high-powered football program, headed by star running back Dick Bass, who went on to have an outstanding pro career with the Los Angeles Rams.

off shore

Off Shore Bar & Grill – Lake Tahoe

Tragically, Jack broke his neck playing in a game in his junior year in college, yet remarkably came back to play in his senior year. But the neck injury came back to haunt him after his senior year, when he took the physical at the San Francisco 49ers training camp and was told that the risk of re-injuring the neck was too great for him to pursue a career in football.

Jack went on to have an outstanding career in the restaurant management business, capped by owning his own restaurant, the Off Shore Bar & Grill, on the shores of north Lake Tahoe. After he and wife, Sharon, moved to Santa Maria, he was convinced by none other than Fess Parker himself, who became a good friend, to come to work at the Fess Parker Winery, where to this day he still enjoys working part-time in the tasting room.

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Bob, Suzanne and Jack

Some 25-30 friends and family attended the party to help Jack celebrate his three-quarters of a century on the planet.  He enjoyed some good wine and a few gag gifts, but most of all he enjoyed the friends and family who had gathered on this beautiful southern California evening to wish him well.

You readers know what a awesome sister I have; I just feel so fortunate to have such great siblings – hat’s off to Mom and Dad, who at least got 2 out of 3 right!