We are just days away from Super Bowl XLVIII which as we all know is going to be played in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. When the announcement came in 2010 that the NFL would be having a NY/NJ Super Bowl, it was met with concern. The concern has slowly seemed to transition into disdain as the big day has gotten closer and closer. This slow but certain change in attitude has been caused by the New York bias that seems to have a sweeping effect across the sports universe.
Before we go any further, I do want to clarify that the New York bias does extend slightly out of the boundaries of the state. Sports teams that play in close proximity to New York also feel the effects of the New York bias.
Let's shift back to the Super Bowl now. Shortly after the announcement was made in 2010 fans and media members alike were worried about a NY/NJ Super Bowl. Their worries were for the quality of the product and the effect that it would have on players and patrons of the game. The fear of the ramifications of frigid weather and blizzard like conditions dominated conversations. Dozens of articles and columns would be written in the following year plus, all containing the same concerned tone. The most common questions brought about by the articles are the following;
- Travel - What if it snows before the big game? What if flights are delayed or cancelled? What if the roads are terrible and it endangers the fans that are driving to the game.
- Game-day Weather - What if the temperatures are below freezing? What if there is a blizzard that day? Are fans really going to want to sit outside in below freezing temperatures or a blizzard for hours upon hours?
- Logistics - So the game is being held in New Jersey, but there are going to be a gala of festivities taking place in two separate states!? New York and New Jersey are already known for bumper to bumper traffic and now we are going to throw a Super Bowl into the mix? Are fans even going to want to attend a week full of Super Bowl activities that are taking place during winter in the North East?
- Players - Is it fair to reward to best teams in the NFL by making them play the most important game of the year in potentially adverse weather? Does the NFL really want to risk the outcome of their championship being decided by weather elements as opposed to the players on the field?
Each and every one of these questions is fairly valid. Not only are these questions fair but they seemed to be coming from a place of concern rather than contempt. However, that was then, flash forward to present day and the tone is a bit different. I am not quite sure when the mood changed involving the Super Bowl. From my perspective it was more of a gradual process then say someone flipping a switch. It would seem as though we are now in a place where some fans and media members are hoping for inclement weather. Articles, columns and talk radio fodder have almost done a complete 180 in regards to their feelings about the location of this game. Some of the very same outlets that were rationally trying to point out the possible hiccups of a NY/NY Super Bowl are now wishing for the worst possible weather situation. They are hoping that travel is a nightmare and that the players don't like the atmosphere and that come Monday morning the NY/NY Super Bowl is viewed as a failure.
Why has there been such a drastic change in perspective from that of only a year or so ago? Why is it that the one thing that originally nobody wanted to have happen, is now being wished upon the fans in attendance and the players in the game? This is where the New York bias enters the equation.
Let's take the New York Giants for example. The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011, two championships in seven seasons isn't too shabby. This past season the Giants had an off year. Eli Manning played some poor football in 2013, they had injuries, they made big mistakes in critical situations, bottom line is that a usually good team underperformed. Every single week in 2013 the Giants were making the headlines. When they were losing they were being heckled and when they were winning they were being told it was because the other team was horrible. The Giants are stuck right in the middle of the New York bias. When the Giants lose a game everyone and their grandma comes out of the woodwork to talk smack about it. When the Giants are winning championships those same people are talking about how it was luck.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been in three Super Bowls over the last nine seasons, winning two of them. The Steelers, much like the Giants are considered to be one of the better teams in the NFL. The Steelers, much like the Giants suffered through a down year during the 2013 season. Were the Steelers failures all over SportsCenter? Was everyone and their grandma coming out to bash the play of Ben Roethlisberger? Aside from their own fans, did anyone really care that the Steelers were under-performing?
The New York bias also extends further than football. Win, lose or draw the New York Yankees are hated by a great majority of baseball fans. No amount of championships (and believe me they have won plenty) will keep people from bashing them when they have a down year. Heck, the Yankees are bashed when they have great years also. On the flip side of that, does anyone outside of St. Louis care when the Cardinals miss the playoffs? The New York Knicks are coming off a strong 2013 performance but are stumbling here in 2014. How do we know they are stumbling? Just turn on your TV or radio, it's all they are talking about nationally. Why aren't they talking about the Chicago Bulls or the Boston Celtics?
New York City is the media mecca of the world. It's the bright lights and the glitz and the glam and whatever other cliché that you can come up with. However, everything that makes New York sports great also makes them hated by most of the remaining sports universe. What if the Super Bowl was being held in Cleveland this year? Or how about Chicago or Green Bay? Would we be seeing the same reaction if it were in any of these other cold weather cities? I am sure that the same questions and concerns would be posed. However, I do not believe that we would ever reach the point where people were wishing the worst upon the game.
The Super Bowl is easily considered to be the greatest championship in America sports. That being said, not even the Super Bowl could overcome the New York bias.