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Super Bowl Live

Pre-Game Coverage: As I begin this column, Im sitting in the American Airlines terminal at New Yorks Kennedy Airport waiting to board my flight to Miami for the Super Bowl. Thats right, Im actually going to the Super Bowl and I still cant believe it.

As an Indianapolis Colts fan Ive been waiting a long time for Peyton Manning and Company to finally get over the hump and make it to the big game. So when a good friend of mine got his hands on a couple of free tickets, it was only a matter of finding a reasonably priced flight, then clearing the trip with my beautiful, smart, thoughtful, and loving wife, Karen. Did I mention how great my wife is? Because she really is, especially given that she would later find herself stuck at home alone with a bad cold and our sick toddler who refused to sleep while I was in Miami attending the game.

But I digress. The Super Bowl is arguably the single-most popular annual entertainment event in the world. Hardly anyone I know, male or female, young or old, doesnt watch some aspect of the annual ritual, even if theyre really only tracking their office pool, watching the half-time show or making fun of the over-hyped commercials.

The thing is, even though my team was going to be in the game this year and I was given a ticket to the game, I still considered staying at home. The reason was the same as the one described by writer, David Halberstam, for why he once turned down a free ticket to Super Bowl III in Miami. In a recent Sports Illustrated article, titled The Ritual Begins, Halberstam recalled his desire, back in 1969, to pass up the invitation so he could watch the game on TV back home with his pals. To him at the time and to me now, there was a sense that football translated so well to television, that being there in person was not such a huge draw.

Many credit television with making professional football, and in turn its penultimate game, into what it is today. Baseball has always been a fine radio sport, but football needed to be seen to be understood. Now, especially with the advent of widescreen 16X9 HD broadcasts, the game is a better TV event than ever. In fact, a survey last year by the Consumer Electronics Association and Sports Video Group found that 48 percent of HDTV owner sports fans purchased their set to watch a specific sporting event, with the Super Bowl as the number-one sales driver. Im sure that many custom installers again faced stressful deadlines last month from high-level clients who wanted their media room and dedicated home theater projects completed before their Super Bowl parties.

So, despite my initial desire to be home in my own space, on Super Bowl Sunday, I realized that I should not miss the chance of a lifetime to see in person my team and my favorite recording artist, half-time performer Prince, do their thing.

Post-Game Report: The first thing I was reminded of when I set foot on South Beach Saturday night was that Chicago is a much bigger town than Indianapolis and therefore Colts fans were greatly outnumbered. Nonetheless, once I got to the game it was immediately clear to me why you come to the game instead of staying at home with nachos and the big screen: the environment.

Once game day started, it was also clear that the weather was not going to cooperate. No other game in Super Bowl history had involved rain and this one was going to be a soaker. There was nothing else like sitting in the constant deluge during the biggest game of the year and watching my team win it all.

I dont think my clothes will ever dry out, but Ill always have amazing memories of watching the Super Bowl in the pouring rain. That said, I am looking forward to watching the 2008 Super Bowl in the comfort of my own home in my own home theater with our friends and family. While theres nothing like the real thing, custom installers help create a family experience that just cant be beat.