Duke’s Den – Super Bowl Super Bore For Riders?

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Did you watch the Super Bowl? According to Nielson ratings, the mega event was watched by about 112 million people – the biggest audience ever on U.S. TV. That calculates to an incredible 36% of all Americans. But the premise of this editorial is that a far lower percentage of motorcyclists plopped themselves on a couch to watch the event.

The majority of my friends on Facebook are motorcycle enthusiasts of some sort, whether they are friends who ride, fellow motojournalists, OEM reps or otherwise affiliated with the moto industry. And, on Super Bowl Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice a surprising lack of posts on Facebook about the big game.

Maybe they were out riding, as the MO crew was during an event with SoCal Trackdays at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Or it’s possible they simply weren’t interested in the country’s biggest game and ignored it.

This general feeling came into sharper focus the next day when I read a FB post by Michael Orr, formerly Aprilia’s National Marketing Director, who now runs his own marketing agency.

“What is it with moto-heads and lack of interest in ball sports?” Orr asked. “There is a direct correlation to riding motorcycles (and I am making the distinction between motorcyclists and bikers here) and NOT being into team sports, balls, or sticks. I’m there with ya!”

Could it be possible the brain of a motorcyclist somehow underappreciates the drama and the social aspects of team sports?

SuperBowl Fans

Is passively watching a stick-and-ball game an anathema to motorcyclists?

Throughout history, riders have commonly been portrayed as lone-wolf types, and there’s certainly an element of truth behind it. Riding, even with a group of friends, is a fairly solitary activity, as the brain’s focus is regularly inward. The wind pushes at you, the tires describe traction levels, and the only communication with others, if at all, is via crude hand signals. Danger lurks everywhere while on two wheels, so a brain is forced to be active, as opposed to a car driver’s more passive duties. Or a game watcher’s.

This internal emphasis while riding is in stark contrast to the mindset of football fans that gather socially and passively watch a game among friends – it’s an exceedingly communal situation, inverse to the lone-wolf motorcycle rider archetype.

Some of you surely watched the big game, and despite the blowout, you probably had a good time. But when it was all over and you were settling yourself into bed, did you wish you had instead spent the day riding?

I hope to see you all weighing in on this subject in the comments section below!

Sportbike Shootout Track

This is how we spent Super Bowl Sunday. You?

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  • Marshall Taylor

    Ideally there would be SportzBowl once a week, preferably on Sunday when I like to ride ;^)

  • Jonathan Peverall

    Yup. Love to ride, and team sports have never been particularly interesting to me. I would rather be out riding than watching sports on tv.

  • DavidyArica Freire

    That’s interesting. I don’t find any particular sport interesting growing up, however racing, not growing up with it, intrigued me. I remember the first time I saw a motorcycle race when I was deployed. It was in the middle of the season and I didn’t know what it was. Can’t remember exactly what round it was but it was between josh Hayes and someone else. The intensity of the fight between each other was amazing, after that I was hooked. Later I learned the different series and championships. It’s been great ever since.

  • sospeedy

    Nice day? Time on my hands? Hmmmmm…. TV or riding? I think the only choice is clear!

  • john burns

    Hmmm, I think that’s what you call a California Question. Super Bowl is good when it’s minus 20 and you are snug in the basement with a nice fire and perhaps a refreshing eggnog.

  • Jim DeLuca

    Interesting,as along time motorcyclist I also have no interest in team sports. Here in Canada if you are not a hockey fan,which I am not, you are considered strange. Could be a PHD. thesis here.

  • ‘Mike Smith

    I was riding during kickoff. Saw parts of it but the game was a blowout.

  • toomanycrayons

    ‘“There is a direct correlation to riding motorcycles (and I am making the distinction between motorcyclists and bikers here) and NOT being into team sports, balls, or sticks. I’m there with ya!”’

    And yet his first instinct is to reach out and bond with an ethereal group of same-pagers? Manning should be so lucky. Oh, right, ethereal…he had.

  • di0genes

    I had no interest in team sports long before I became interested in motorcycles, and have always known the two were totally related. MCs are a perfect way to get away from crowds, group activities, and being a cog in someone else’s machine (there is no I in team :-)

  • John A. Stockman

    I grew up in a family of motorcyclists, our history goes back on my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. They raced in the early teens on the board tracks for Indian, Harley and Excelsior. Grandpa’s first bike was a mid-teens Thor and when I was growing up, he rode his 1939 Indian Chief (my avatar pic) everywhere in all kinds of weather. No attention paid to ball sports, but I was forced to play some during school. I couldn’t wait to get home and ride my little dirt bike around a track my dad made for me and friends on our property. My disdain for ball sports came from derision from friends about motorcycles in general, and especially when they told me that motorcycle racing was not a sport, didn’t require any physical/mental skills because “they just sit on the bike, twist the throttle and turn the handlebars.” The ignorance and denial was and still is, monumental. To this day, I have discussions with ball sports folks, and I still hear the same ignorant comments. Just a few weeks back, I had a friend say those words to me about just-twisting-the-throttle and they don’t have any athletic talent at all. Idiot. No parity or recognition of athletic ability. In America, ball sports are crammed down your throat constantly, being displayed and touted as the pinnacle of athletic talent; and motorcycles and racing them are considered as a “death-wish” endeavor for idiots. The gap in understanding and acceptance with motorcycle racing as a legit and tremendously difficult discipline is so vast from ball sport proponents. Yet when motorcycle racing enthusiasts talk about ball sports, there’s still a certain amount of respect for the talent. To say that racing motorcycles is non-athletic, that tells you all you need to know about the myopic, closed-minded attitude from the ball-sport crowd. When I try to extoll the amazing physical and mental talent required to get a bike around a track at speed, they act like I’m speaking a foreign language. “Oh, you don’t like or follow football/baseball/basketball/soccer/etc.?” I’ve been accused of being gay, un-American, and other derogatory words. I have actual information and already-proven tests and results, and ball-sport-folks have nothing but conjecture, anecdotal evidence, uninformed opinions, complete ignorance and the ability to ignore the facts. The denial is so great…anyone with common sense can understand how hard it is to initiate counter-steering and hit your line lap after lap. The strength required to do that increases with the square of speed because you’re dealing with energetic forces like kinetic, gyroscopic, centrifugal and other physics of motion, weight and energy. Apparently, you must be a complete dunce, in denial, with no desire to learn or understand basic physics, to be a ball sports fan. The sheep-like mentality of people that think ball-sports-are-the-only-sports-that-matter is amusing, but very sad. On the stupor-bowl Sunday for years, I invite some people over who actually don’t have blinders on about athleticism and we watch Super-cross or Motocross that I DVR’d. If the ball sport crowd had been paying attention, they’d know that Motocross/Supercross is one of the most physically demanding disciplines in the world. It’s not about what’s “better”, it’s about real athletic talent and a recognition the high level of physical & mental abilities. Those who follow ball sports only, the vast majority are not out there playing…motorcycle racing enthusiasts are the ones who are out there riding and racing themselves. I’ll never forget what John Surtees said during an interview at a Goodwood Festival quite a few years ago. The guy talking with him was asking questions about his past and his Goodwood experiences. The guy then asked Surtees about who he favored in the then-current world cup soccer match, since it was going on at that time. Sir John Surtees looked at him like he was an idiot and said “Children play with balls and sticks, men race and REAL men race motorcycles.” Then he immediately walked away. It’s one of my most-favorite quotes of all time and sums up just how much is required athletically from an individual who races at the pro level. I’ve done club-level racing on a Yamaha SR500 for about 12 years, and even at that level, it demands a lot of strength and even more focus/concentration to be inch-perfect through each corner at a race-pace. And I was only maybe at 40-50% of the level the pros have to achieve.

  • Nick

    I have been riding for nearly 50 years and I have never once sat through any stick and ball game from start to finish in my life. However, there is nothing I enjoy more than getting lost on my machine, exploring new roads and areas. Never get tired of it, in fact I seem to love it more each year. Cannot imagine my life without motorcycles !

  • Kevin

    Most team sports take too much time to reach conclusion. Riders are moving, things are constantly changing, and usually are not looking for and end to the ride. The only thing worse than setting for hours in front of a tube watching grass grow on a baseball field is watching grass grow on a golf course.