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To understand the rise of the Super Bowl, just look to Colin Kaepernick

Jan 26, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT

kaepernickfansap AP

They say that there are seven basic plots in storytelling, but as every Super Bowl has taught us, there are really only two: who are we, and where are our pants? At least one of those questions will be answered on Feb. 3 during Super Bowl XLVII: The Kaepernicking.

Yes, now it can be told: I once lost my pants during a Super Bowl party. It involved a prop bet, an aggressive dog and a swimming pool, but the details aren’t important right now: what is important is that nothing explains who we are as Americans more than the biggest NFL game of the year. The World Cup and the Olympics may draw more viewers, but those two events are still mostly about the athletics. The World Series takes more time to play, but that’s still about baseball. The DNA of the Super Bowl, on the other hand, is 70 percent spectacle, 30 percent sport. If aliens were preparing to invade Earth and needed to discover how to take out its biggest player, they should probably just watch the Super Bowl. That’s our playbook in a nutshell.

And nothing explains the establishment of the Super Bowl as our cultural bellwether better than the insane rise of 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He’s the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of quarterbacks, and right now he’s fueled by Super Bowl hype.

A year ago today not many knew who Kaepernick was. Some may have heard that he was adopted, and there were rumors that he owned a large tortoise. “So what?” you may have declared. “Many of my sporting heroes own desert-dwelling reptiles.” But then, 2012 happened. Now as Super Bowl XLVII approaches, a bakery in Modesto, CA is churning out cakes shaped like Kaepernick body parts.

Tattoos have never tasted so good as they do in this new Super Bowl cake available at Village Baking Company in Modesto, California.

And as my pappy once told me, “You’ll know you’ve made it, son, when kids are eating your arm cake.”

Also: People are buying Kaepernick tattoos; Kaepernick is buying pizza for everyone in the media; and on Saturday an entire college basketball arena participated in a mass Kaepernicking: setting a record for the most fans all standing and kissing their biceps at the same time.

Colin Kaepernick is bigger than U.S. Steel.

And the Super Bowl did that. People are eating Kaepernick arm cake not so much due to his playing ability, which is genuine and awesome — they’re eating it because of the spectacle surrounding the Super Bowl. Kaepernick has hitched a ride on the fastest-moving star in the sports media galaxy. The Super Bowl is spectacle: it’s TV talk shows being broadcast from New Orleans, and the Volkswagen Star Wars commercials, and Beyonce’s halftime show (which this year, in a stroke of unfortunate irony considering the AFC East standings, will include the Destiny’s Child hit Bills, Bills, Bills).

It’s also Super Bowl parties: did you know that last year, Americans consumed 2.5 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl? And that more people are interested in watching the Super Bowl commercials than the actual game? A Chicago-based research company did a poll, and watching the commercials beat out watching the game, 39 percent to 28 percent.

And it’s ticket prices. A quick check on StubHub shows that the average ticket price for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans is hovering around $3,520, with luxury suites in excess of $300,000 — and that’s not including parking pass and Mardi Gras beads. A ticket to the first Super Bowl, by contrast, cost $12, and the game didn’t even sell out. That was in 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and while not hugely popular, at least insured that the NFL would be firmly entrenched in that city forever and ever.

“Rome is the mob,” said Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus in Gladiator. And as in Rome, the beating heart of our Republic is not the marble of the senate, it’s Super Bowl Week. Please note that the actual playing time of game itself takes up only 60 minutes of Super Bowl Party Week. The remainder is taken up by things like this email I just received: I’d like to invite you to a Head & Shoulders Super Bowl Media Event at Pat O’Brien’s in NOLA on Wednesday 1/30 at 6pm. We’ll be revealing our newest Head & Shoulders spokesperson.

That’s four days before the game. I don’t think I can withstand Super Bowl Week in New Orleans. The hype and spectacle would be too much, for me and my pants.

  1. Myron Mesecke - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    I love the Superbowl. I have come to hate all of the other junk that has tagged along with it like a lamprey eel on a shark. I don’t care for all the pregame crap. Or the commercials. And I certainly don’t like the big halftime crap.

    But I love the game.

  2. klundpaiy - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    If you want to save money over StubHub’s prices, eliminate service fees with a Ticket Club membership! For a limited time, email for a free membership.