MORRISSEY: A Super Bowl in Chicago? Snow way
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org | @MorrisseyCST March 2, 2014 10:30PM
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Updated: March 3, 2014 4:50PM
If you watched the Blackhawks play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Soldier Field, then you know how joyful a game of hockey can be when it’s played outdoors in a snowstorm.
Smiling fans stood shoulder to shoulder in the cold, many of them thinking the same thing: ‘‘I wouldn’t be able to see the puck if you gave me binoculars and a snowblower, but here we are, all of us together inside a football stadium, beer for sale, a glorious snow falling, any feeling in my hands a distant memory, and did I mention it’s snowing?!’’
Who can be against a snow globe of an athletic contest? Nobody with a body temperature above freezing. But, brrrrrrr, I’m getting cold just thinking about the idea of a Super Bowl played here amid falling flakes and temperatures.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for Chicago to get the big game, and as we all know, Emanuel’s push often feels like a rear-end collision. I want to believe that sound judgment eventually will win out here, but Emanuel jumped into Lake Michigan on Sunday morning as part of the Chicago Polar Plunge, so who knows?
This was the third-snowiest and third-coldest December-through-February in recorded Chicago weather history. Add it up, and you have a compelling reason to move somewhere warmer. But these kinds of winters happen here. They’re not an anomaly.
You don’t plop a Super Bowl in the middle of a Chicago winter and say to yourself, ‘‘Now this is a wonderful idea.’’ It is not a game that should be decided by weather — or if it is, it should be decided by sunstroke, not wind chill.
The Stadium Series, on the other hand, is a great idea. The NHL has stumbled upon something very good, something that strikes a chord with people who fondly remember playing hockey at a frozen park or people who think Canadians skate to school every day with a puck on their sticks.
There was a moment Saturday night when Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook attempted a slap shot, only to whiff, thanks to a pile of snow, or a Yeti, that had stopped the puck in its tracks. You can’t afford to have that sort of occurrence at a Super Bowl, which is rightly built on the idea of having conditions as close to perfect as possible.
The Stadium Series is an extravaganza with nothing much at stake. For both teams, it’s one game in an 80-game season — albeit an interesting, entertaining game.
The Super Bowl is an extravaganza with everything at stake. Teams have competed to get to one game that will decide a season. It’s why you can’t have something like weather playing a major role in the game’s outcome. It’s supposed to be the two best teams playing in the best conditions for a championship.
The Hawks-Penguins game was put on for the viewing audience. The players and the snow were there to entertain. The players know it. They were trotted out onto Soldier Field like circus animals.
The Super Bowl might peripherally be about the TV ads and the homage to American excess, but in the end, it’s about deciding a champion. A championship shouldn’t be decided outdoors in Chicago in February.
To all of you who think football is meant to be played in the elements and thus that the Super Bowl should be played in the elements, too, how would you feel about the Stanley Cup Final being played in the elements? In melting ice in June?
Wait, hockey’s not supposed to be played outside, you say? Well, what about all the prose that was dedicated last week to describing the glories of outdoor hockey? On golden pond, and all that?
You want optimal conditions for a title game. It’s not asking much.
The NFL caught a break this year when the Super Bowl in New Jersey landed perfectly between two weather systems that would have played havoc with spirals and field goals. Some people think a snowy title game would have been quaint, like Norman Rockwell looking in a mirror and painting himself. But let’s say your favorite team had used an exceptional passing attack to crush everyone in its path in the regular season and playoffs, then was grounded in the Super Bowl because of snow and cold. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be too happy.
Nice weather levels the playing field in a good way. Bad weather has its place. On the nightly news.