The viewing audience for Super Bowl XLV is expected to be around 100 million people.
You, however, do not have to be part of the crowd.
So why set yourself up for disappointment? Why not just skip the game this year? If you need some reasons not to watch, here are five (or V, for those infatuated with that whole Roman numeral thing):
I: It's just a football game. Unless you're a hard-core football fan — and if you are, you should be laundering your Johnny Unitas throwback jersey instead of reading this — Super Bowl memories all sort of coagulate into one long highlight reel. Peyton Manning fires the football … Jerry Rice catches the football ... Franco Harris runs with the football. You can see plays just as exciting every Sunday during the regular season. But this is the Super Bowl, you say. Big deal, we say. Remember what Dallas' Duane Thomas said before Super Bowl VI: "If it's the ultimate game, how come they're playing it again next year?" And that was XXXIX years ago.
What to do instead: Read a good sports book, maybe "The Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn. Yeah, it's baseball. So what?
II: The game is on Fox, the loud and annoying uncle of television networks. Those cheesy sound effects every time a graphic pops up on the screen. What is that whooshing? Just something to poke fans who have short attention spans? Worse is Cleatus, Fox's strutting, clanking, animated robot who appears regularly. Want more reasons not to watch? Here's a bold prediction: There will be endless promos for "Bob's Burgers" and Fox's other elite programming.
What to do instead: If you must watch TV on Super Bowl Sunday, there is counterprogramming: Puppy Bowl VII (3 p.m. Eastern on Animal Planet cable channel). We pray for a III Stooges marathon.
III: The commercials. Everybody talks about the commercials. But for every time Betty White plays football or Mean Joe Greene gives his jersey to a kid, there's Herb the Nerd or a Kenyan distance runner being drugged and having running shoes forcibly stuck on his feet. Remember how terrible those were? Of course you don't. You've wiped them from your memory, they were that bad. Also, there are so many commercial breaks that the flow of the game is disrupted. Just watch. The first quarter, with long commercial blocks after every change of possession, will be interminable.
What to do instead: Wait till Super Bowl Monday, when the best of the commercials will be on the Internet and you can avoid that silly football filler.
IV: Unless it includes a Very Special Tribute to Leslie Nielsen, the halftime show will disappoint. That's not to denigrate the headlining Black Eyed Peas, who will put on a show for the ages. If you like them. But it's a matter of numbers. Regardless of what the halftime act is, it won't have the universal appeal needed to entertain every segment of the vast Super Bowl audience. While the over-50s get all bug-eyed over a washed-out version of The Who, the under-30s nod off. The networks could go for some balance — follow the Black Eyed Peas with Up With People, perhaps — but that would just tick off the entire worldwide viewing audience.
What to do instead: Write to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and demand that next year's halftime show include a pie fight between Lady Gaga and Andy Griffith.
V: The game is too long. Figure 4, 4 1/2 hours for the game itself. Throw in the pregame hypefest with Terry, Howie, Michael, Jimmy, Zeppo and Gummo, then the postgame babble, and we're talking half a day. Half. A. Day. There are some mayfly species that have a 30-minute lifespan. That doesn't even get them through the President Obama-Bill O'Reilly fisticuffs during the pregame show.
What to do instead: There are better ways to fritter away a day. Find a decent restaurant — one without TVs — and enjoy a quiet meal. Shop the empty aisles at The Home Depot. Go bowling. Then come home, and write a letter to Fox and beg it to dismantle Cleatus.