Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Have a Super Sunday in Las Vegas

I don't know exactly when it first started happening, but I've noticed that in the last few years most media outlets and businesses have come up with creative ways to describe a certain big game coming up this weekend instead of putting the word Super next to the name of the type of dish out of which you eat cereal, Ice Cream, or salad (if you're a hippie). I'm aware that the League of National Footballers is a quite litigious organization, but it seems sort of silly to me that most headlines or signs are forced to use terms like "Big Game" instead of the trademarked moniker for said sporting event, because doesn't that sort the name just serve to reinforce the brand?

Then again, The Sunday of The Superb-Owl (the title of a comic strip I could start drawing, but probably won't because I'm lazy... and also terrible at drawing) is basically a national holiday celebrated in greater numbers and with more fervor and religiosity than Christmas (even though Chicken Wings and Pizza places are all open instead of just Chinese restaurants), so I guess the league doesn't need any more publicity than they already receive and can just collect checks for people who use their trademarked game title and still feel confident that everyone in the country will be watching.

My question is, what happens when someone trademarks the term "Big Game?" Wait, I might do that right now. It was my idea, don't steal it! It makes me wonder who owns the BigGame.Com or TheBigGame.Com URLs on GoDaddy? Anyway, as per usual, I digress. The actual point of this post is all about how do Las Vegas on Super Salad Dish Sunday, so I suppose I'll focus on that.

The last time I was in Las Vegas for the big game was two years ago, when Aaron Rodgers and The Pack beat Pittsburgh in a pretty good game. The city pretty much shuts down during the much hyped match every year. While that sounds like an exaggeration, during the four quarters of the contest, it's easy to find a spot at usually packed gaming tables, lines for popular buffets are shorter, and attendance for shows dips. Which means those Cirque performers and Blue Men are both missing the game while performing in front of nearly empty houses, which is just sad when you think about it.
You really have two options on Big Game Sunday in Vegas... you can get to a cool sports bar or sports book hours and hours early and spec out a nice place to sit, spending tons of money over the course of the day on Beers and fried foods, basically paying rent on your highly desired real estate. Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo serves Emeril approved twists on sports bar classics in a space with tons of TVs, including a massive projection screen that you can view from actual stadium-style seats. And loyal readers know how much I love Public House at The Venetian, where you can enjoy an incredible selection of beers... but the hip and classy joint only features a couple TVs over the bar, so you will have to get there really early if you want a good seat for kickoff. If you've got the cash, many of the venues take reservations for the game where you can sign up for packages that include drinks and food along with seats near a TV, but it's expensive... the game watching equivalent of getting bottle service at a club, only with more nachos and less dubstep.

The other option, for those like me who are too lazy and unmotivated to post up at seats hours before the game and are too cheap to pay for the privilege of watching a game you can watch on hundreds (more like thousands) of TVs hanging all over town anyway is to not plan anything and just wander The Strip. Every single casino you walk into will be playing the game on every screen you look at. Honestly, it will be hard to not have the game in your line of vision no matter where you turn your head. Two years ago, my friends and I had a blast walking down The Strip, stopping at gaming tables and laying bets, collecting comped drinks, and watching a few plays before moving to the next place during commercial breaks. We watched the fourth quarter at The South Point Casino, chomping on Bacon 'n' Cheese Double Steakburgers and Thin Crispy Fries with Cheese Sauce at the furthest west location of the wonderfully terrible for your health Steak N' Shake, then hit the road ahead of traffic once the game clock hit zero. While this strategy might make serious football fans nervous, we timed it so that we didn't miss any key plays and moved to different locations during ad breaks and between quarters (because we really had no desire to watch the Black Eyed Peas during halftime anyway). And while the TV spots are just as big a part of the event, any truly outstanding ads will be available on Monday morning on Hulu and  YouTube anyway, so you're not going to miss anything.

I'd do the same thing this year, but this game is bigger for me than in years past. I'm from the Bay Area, so my Niners are in the big dance. That means I'll need true and deep focus, because we all know that fans watching the game at all times and wearing your lucky hat and eating the same food you ate the last time your team won the big game can have a big impact on what happens on the field (it's only weird if it doesn't work, as that ubiquitous Bud Light ad campaign pointed out). But if your favorite team isn't in the game? Walk The Strip as you watch the game and don't stress about finding a good spot. Because nothing will drown out your sorrow due to your team failing to make it to the big game better than the fresh sorrow you'll feel as you lose money at the various gaming tables along The Strip, at which point you'll make the same face Jim Harbaugh makes when even the most meaningless of calls doesn't go his way.

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