When I saw a mass of people running across the Super Bowl media room in Dallas on Wednesday, I feared someone had a heart attack, or worse yet there was a bomb scare.
When the mini-marathon led to a lengthy line snaking past the booth run by Dallas’ host committee, I thought the rumors of free iPads must be true.
As it turns out, the folks from Big D were giving away tiny hamburgers that for all the world looked a lot like a White Castle. I like a slider as much as the next guy, but I usually don’t bust a gut getting them, but rather after I eat them.
I would have thought it was a starving stampede from a Third World country if not for all the beer bellies jiggling along the way.
But at the Super Bowl—and especially in the media room—it’s all about the freebies. You want the media’s attention, offer them just about anything edible. Cream cheese danish, watch out! If there’s alcohol involved, take cover!!
Dallas has a menu of delectables planned for the entire week. They threw in beer bottle cozies on Wednesday for good measure, and who knows what they’ll do to capture the media’s attention the remainder of the week.
A psychology student could write a dissertation on the phenomena of risking life and limb over food that’s worth, in most cases, less than $5.
It’s a fascinating—and slightly sick—game to watch unfold.
The vending machines spit out free cans of soda and bottles of water here in the media room, but since there’s a machine with an odd electronic $.00 indicator on it at every turn, there’s no rush there.
Indianapolis and New Orleans, which have booths in the media center as the hosts of the next two Super Bowls, are trying to keep pace in the free-for-all.
On Wednesday, Indianapolis handed out hundreds of bags of Indiana-made popcorn courtesy of the good folks at Broad Ripple-based Just Pop In.
Later this week, it should be absolute pandemonium when the St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail gets jetted in. Unfortunately, the shell fish delicacies have lost their way in the snow storm that has stretched from Indy to Dallas, leaving the food-crazy media masses licking their chops.
But Indianapolis has something else to offer that in these unexpected frigid temps in North Texas are proving almost as popular as the food offerings: The Reebok knit hats with a 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl logo are everywhere. And the blue-and-white scarves knitted by the Indianapolis Super Scarvers contingency are proving to be even more enticing.
Problem is, while the local host committee is wearing the spiffy scarves, they didn’t bring any to hand out.
Well, it’s probably a smart strategy. Leave them wanting for more.
As for me, I’m still waiting for my luggage lost somewhere in the whiteout between Chicago and Denver. I haven’t shaved since Monday morning. I groomed my hair Wednesday and Thursday with a comb fashioned out of four coffee straws, and I’ve been brushing my teeth with a hotel-issued toothbrush that looks like it was made for Snow White’s seven dwarf friends.
My colleague, Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, felt so much pity on me, he offered to lend me some of his spare clothes.
Ah yes, the allure of freebies. In trying times, even the most sanctimonious journalist can fall prey to the temptations.
Here’s hoping one of the host committees hands out underwear and deodorant sometime soon.