Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Don't Be Too Quick to Dismiss HarBowl



I’ve already heard it. “Any more talk about the Harbaugh brothers coaching in the Super Bowl and I’m going to puke.” 

Usually I am one of those people. Any overhyped, media-crazed story has me rolling my eyes and flipping the channel. I’ve written about the hype, and how horrible it is, many times. I’ve verbally complained to people about the hype. 

But this time? This time, folks, I’m taking the side of hype.

So sue me.

Let’s go over the other facts of the past fourteen days: the baseball writers decided no one was worthy of making the Hall of Fame, Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah that he took PEDs, and Mante Te’o was the victim of a horrid prank (or so we think at the moment). Those types of stories are pretty depressing. The media trounces on those stories to get us to react. They want us to talk about the validity of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) and whether or not baseball players accused of taking steroids are should be in the HOF. They want us to ream out Armstrong for his jerkiness. They want us to feel pity for the Notre Dame defenseman.

Now think about the Harbaugh story. Jim and John – born a little over a year apart from each other – are head coaches of the two teams headed to the Super Bowl: the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. John has established himself as a solid head coach, even while having no NFL playing experience. Jim played 15 years in the NFL after being a stellar college quarterback for the University of Michigan. The boys’ parents, a happily married couple named – get this – Jack and Jackie live in Mequon, Wisconsin, a little burb north of Milwaukee. Jack has gotten coaching film from the boys throughout the season and has given each support every step of the way. And now these two men are going to have to try and best the other on one of the biggest stages in sports.

Does that make us irritated at an organization? Does that make us think that a player is a giant jerk? Does that make us feel pity? 

No! It makes us feel good! It makes us feel happy! Stories like this one are meant to be overhyped! Why complain about this? Do you really want to hear more about the Los Angeles Lakers’ nosedive into the basement of the NBA? Really? Because I’d much rather hear about two men from a solid Midwestern family who have reached the pinnacle of their sport. 

Last year I was already salivating at the idea, but then both the 49ers and the Ravens lost in their respective championship games, making the Super Bowl last year – even with Tom Brady – a little less important in my book.

This year, though, I’m very excited for this game. I am looking forward to seeing the pregame and postgame talk about the Harbaughs. I look forward to seeing any screen shots of their parents – or maybe their sister and her husband, Indiana basketball head coach Tom Crean. I eagerly anticipate the CBS crew messing up “Jim” and “John” about twenty-one times. (Is there a prop bet for that one yet?) 

Why? Well, I take pride in family. It’s probably similar to me enjoying a good Peyton-Eli matchup. Okay, I also enjoy a good Peyton-Eli commercial. But they’re brothers, too. Like the Harbaughs, they grew up together, played with and against each other, had arguments, fought, laughed, joked, and lived together. To see a family story extend beyond college is a treat, especially because many times we hear about sports figures’ broken homes or tragic backstories. 

Wouldn’t you like to play a giant game like this against your brother or sister? Pick your favorite sport. Now have your sibling be on the opposing side. For me, it would be swimming. If my sister was in the lane next to me in the finals of the 400m individual medley, I would sooooooo want to beat her. But at the same time, if she beat me, I would be very proud of her. Put yourselves in Jim or John’s shoes. Think of how much fun it would be!

So enjoy the only kind of family drama there should be – played on a football field, where the outcome doesn’t really matter and they’ll shake hands at the end. Stories like this one are the ones that I will gladly overhype, whether you like it or not.