Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

World's Biggest Sideshow Surrounds the Super Bowl

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

World's Biggest Sideshow Surrounds the Super Bowl

Article excerpt

Earlier in the 20th century, ailing visitors flocked to Phoenix and surrounding desert communities to improve their health in the dry heat and sunshine.

This week, 150,000 hard-charging, big-spending tourists have journeyed to the Valley of the Sun to do considerable damage to their well-being.

Fans will drink, eat, party, push through stifling crowds, miss sleep, paint their faces, deplete their bank accounts and holler for the Dallas Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers. They will roam the streets in search of good times, celebrities and - if they're lucky - a ticket to Sunday's game.

It's all part of the national sporting holiday known as the Super Bowl. The National Football League will stage its 30th Super Bowl on Sunday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium. But this is more than a championship football game.

The Super Bowl is a movable feast - a rolling carnival, highlighting the best and worst of our pop culture.

"It's the biggest show there is," said Deion Sanders, star player for the Cowboys. "It's the biggest stage there is."

The most famous of ancient games - the Olympics - began as a religious festival in honor of Zeus. The most famous of modern games - the Super Bowl - is a festival that glorifies excess.

"In the distant future, when historians sit down in an effort to trace the beginning of the Decline of Western Civilization, they'll start by reviewing videotapes of Super Bowl Week," Howie Long once said. Long is a Fox broadcaster who used to play defensive end for the Oakland Raiders.

Here is a glimpse of what those historians would see:

Corporate executives zooming to Phoenix on private jets, then using helicopters to hop from the golf course to swanky parties.

So many limousines were booked in advance for this week, local limo companies had to import vehicles and drivers from California. Cost: $1,000 per night, and some of the best limo customers are Cowboys players.

Ticket scalpers, selling the worst seats in the stadium for $1,100 each. The best seats will cost you $4,500 apiece.

Hotels and resorts, dramatically inflating their guest rates. Rooms that are normally $99 per night are going for $250. …

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