Tune out the noise
It has begun.
Sunday evening, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will take the field in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, looking to claim king-of-the-gridiron status until September.
And with the Super Bowl, naturally, comes a veritable deluge of media coverage.
I hail from New Orleans, and when I talked to my parents during the weekend, they told me about how the French Quarter, the city’s most iconic neighborhood, has been overrun not only by tourists and fans in town for the game, but also by the various media outlets covering the contest as well. CBS co-opted a parking lot here, ESPN constructed their sets in a park there, and so on and so forth.
Radio. Print. Television. Everyone who’s anyone in media is in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. A friend even recently sent me pictures of Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg broadcasting from Jackson Square. It’s pretty much impossible to avoid.
Which makes it crazy that I’m going to try to do just that.
Let me explain. Those who know me well know I am a raving sports fanatic. ESPN and Deadspin are two of my obligatory morning website visits. During the European soccer transfer window, I refresh ESPN’s “On the Move” blog almost obsessively to see if my favorite team, Liverpool, is making any moves. Grantland is my homepage, and I’ve read Bill Simmons’ basketball book three times. My conversational skills are somewhat stunted, but put me in a room with someone who wants to talk sports and we’ll shoot the breeze for an hour or two, no problem. You get the idea – my passion for sports borders on unhealthy.
But I’ve been reading Nate Silver’s book “The Signal and the Noise” lately. Though its message of trying to filter out the irrelevant information to get to the important bits is intended primarily to guide people who are making statistical predictions, the concept of “signal” and “noise” applies so perfectly to this very situation.
As heretical or hypocritical as it may sound for a sportswriter to say, I’m going cold turkey on Super Bowl pregame coverage — unless I get a specific tip from somebody about a truly relevant breaking story.
I’m not taking ESPN out of the morning interweb routine; it will still come between email and Facebook on the list of sites to visit as I eat a bowl of cereal at 8:15 in my still-dark room. But I’ll stick to the NBA or college basketball sections for now, thank you very much. No SportsCenter for me, either — can’t risk getting inundated with so much worthless information that I’ll want to rip my ears off.
You see, no matter what ESPN might tell you, whichever cereal Colin Kaepernick has for breakfast tomorrow will have no impact on the game whatsoever – unless, of course, he puts spoiled milk on that cereal and gets severe food poisoning. It’s just noise. Ray Lewis’ latest press conference in which he “humbly” says that the Ravens are destined to win? Noise.
And for the love of all that is good in this world, spare me every mention of “Harbowl,” “Super Baugh,” or any other clever bon mot that mashes “Harbaugh” and “Super Bowl” together. In case you’ve missed any second of ESPN for the last week, there have been roughly one billion such references — and they ultimately just amount to even more worthless noise.
It’s not news I need to know; for that matter, it’s not really even “news” if you define that term with any strictness. So I’m going to avoid it. And you know what? I honestly believe that my enjoyment of the game will be better because of it. Rather than getting to Sunday weary of all of the over-the-top coverage of every minute aspect of Super Bowl week, just wishing for it all to be over, I get to spend this week psyching myself up for what should be an outstanding football game.
For the first time since the Saints faced my fellow Isidore Newman alum Peyton Manning three years ago, I’m really looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. I’m going to cook an unholy amount of delicious food, then eat that food with my friends while we watch the game — the “signal.” And I’m going to do all of that while taking in as little pregame media “noise” as humanly possible.
And there’s nothing CBS or ESPN or anyone else can do about it.