Good morning. Let me be the first to wish you a happy holiday.
No, it's not Christmas, and Kris Kringle has not found his way down your chimney again. And, no, you didn't go to bed last night and sleep straight through to that card-and-candy-company-created "holiday" known as Valentine's Day.
Today is actually perhaps the most American of all the unofficial holidays: Super Bowl Sunday.
Football! Food! Overt commercialism! Ray Lewis! The Harbaugh brothers! Deer antler spray! Beyonce at halftime! Jim Nantz!!! (OK, maybe not so much Jim Nantz.)
In case you just emerged from a coma in the last 24 hours, I should inform you that, yes, Super Bowl XLVII is set for 6:30 p.m. today in New Orleans. The matchup - pitting the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens against the NFC's San Francisco 49ers - will be broadcast on CBS. The aforementioned Nantz will provide play-by-play, with color commentary from Phil Simms.
Last year, 111.3 million Americans tuned in for the Super Bowl XLVI tilt between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. In 2011, just more than 106 million in the U.S. watched the Super Bowl XLV matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Basically, it's the biggest sporting event of the year.
The World Series and the NBA Finals are fun, but they can stretch as long as seven games each.
Seemingly, everyone - especially in the South - loves college football, but those allegiances tend to be regional in nature. Plus, the largest division in college football doesn't yet have a playoff system, which is, well, dumb.
College basketball's March Madness admittedly is awesome, if for no other reason than it gives people the chance to play hooky and watch basketball during the week. Also, March Madness gives me the annual opportunity to ridicule copy editor Bob Simmonds for inevitably having a team like Southwest Minnesota State University going to the Final Four. (We love you, Bob. Get well soon, brother.)
But nothing in sports is bigger than the Super Bowl. If you live in America and you have a television, chances are you're tuning in tonight. Doesn't matter whether or not you're a Ravens fan or a 49ers fan. Doesn't even matter if you're a fan of the NFL.
Football has become our national pastime, and tonight's the night where we send the season off with a bang.
AS YOU PROBABLY KNOW, there are quite a few people who wager money on professional football, particularly the Super Bowl. Not that I would, um, condone such a thing. As of Friday afternoon, the 49ers were 3.5-point favorites in Super Bowl XLVII.
Many Las Vegas sports books also take what are known as "prop bets" on the game or elements surrounding the game. Some of these prop bets are really off the wall.
For instance, you can bet on whether Alicia Keys' performance of the National Anthem will be longer or shorter than two minutes, 15 seconds. Or whether or not Beyonce's hair will crimped or straight at halftime. Or what color Gatorade will be used during the inevitable "Gatorade bath" of the winning coach.
I know most of you probably aren't gamblers, but I figured I'd offer you some odds on a few other prop bets, just in case you might want to make things interesting.
Will my wife abandon the living room at 9 p.m. and go watch "Downton Abbey" in the other room? - My wife, like many others, has fallen for the PBS Masterpiece Classic series "Downton Abbey." It's on our regular DVR recording list, and she doesn't miss an episode. She even insists on using the proper British pronunciation of the word "Downton," even though she is from Calhoun Falls. And yes, they are airing a new episode tonight, right during the Super Bowl. Odds: 2-1.
Will the Ravens' Ray Lewis murder someone after the game? - Just kidding. Sort of. Odds 100-1.
What are the odds Verne Lundquist "announces" the game from a bar stool in the French Quarter? - There is a possibility Lundquist, CBS' longtime lead college football announcer, is jealous Nantz and Simms are calling tonight's game. But don't think Verne will let that stop him from going to New Orleans and talking about the game ... at one of the local watering holes. The only color commentary will be when the bartender says "Man, Verne, your nose sure is red." Odds: 1,000-1.
How many times will I go back to the kitchen for some more of that "spicy sausage cheese dip" stuff everybody has during the Super Bowl? - While the real Super Bowl will take place on the field at the Superdome in New Orleans, the Super Bowl of Eating will take place in homes across the nation. One of the staples of seemingly any Super Bowl party is what I refer to as "spicy sausage cheese dip." You know, the stuff you make in the crock pot.
One time we had a Super Bowl party at my house and four different people brought the "spicy sausage cheese dip." It was amazing. We just had an ambulance set up outside the house that day with a defibrillator ready to go. My arteries sent me hate mail for six months. Over/under: Six trips to the kitchen.
If you actually place a winning bet on any of these props, please collect your winnings from: Mr. Richard Whiting, 610 Phoenix St., Greenwood, SC 29646.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.