Super Bowl Sunday. For many Americans, this day is more celebrated than most federally recognized holidays. From the hardcore football fan to those who just want to watch the commercials, the Super Bowl is a game of epic proportions. Author Allen St. John gives the reader and insider glimpse at the greatest day in sports. He takes the reader through a series of aspects leading up to the Big Event, including topics the average viewer wouldn’t have ever given a second thought. St. John’s book takes place in the year leading up to Super Bowl XLI, in 2008, in which the New York Giants topped the New England Patriots in Glendale, Arizona.
“The Billion Dollar Game” is broken into several different sections: The Game, The Celebration and The Show. Each section is then further broken down into chapters. St. John presents the chapters in a somewhat chronological order, so sections are brought up multiple times throughout the text. This creates a disjointed flow of information for the reader. Despite St. John’s attempt at creating a timeline, he frequently goes out on tangents, and the desired chronology is lost in chaos. The reader is taken from one subject to without any closure on the previous. Sections would have been better off fully completed before moving on to the next to keep the reader fully engaged.
Throughout the text, St. John includes various facts and topics that the average viewer, even avid fan, would have never though of. One of the most interesting points St. John discusses involves the building of the stadium. He provides detailed descriptions on the architectural design of the stadium, what hoops where jumped through to build the stadium, and what potential the stadium could bring to the city of Glendale. Football fans get a inside look at what decisions play a role in creating a home for their favorite team. Another interesting aspect St. John discusses is the broadcasting of the game: what new technologies could be utilized, how much extra equipment to bring in, and how to get the best angle for each play. The reader can take great interest in this aspect, as they are the ones enjoying the outcome.
Despite the insightful chapters that are of interest to the reader, St. John lingers too long on topics that are not as engaging. One example includes the Playboy pre-game party. St. John goes into too much detail too many times and the reader quickly loses interest. Another mundane aspect St. John frequently includes is overly detailed histories and biographies of various V.I.P.s on the road to the Super Bowl, including architects, network execs, team owners, party planners, advertising agents, etc. The list is seemingly endless. This creates an information overload, and it is difficult for the reader to remember who is who and who accomplished what. Within a few chapters, these biographies seems to run together and become irrelevant to the overall subject: the Super Bowl.
One subject is glaringly absent from St John’s depiction of Super Bowl XLII: the players. St. John rarely discusses the teams, their players, and their struggles to reach the Super Bowl. The reader, assumed to be at least a mild football fan, would get a lot of interest out of learning more about the players what they must overcome throughout the year. How they feel about stadium architecture, broadcasts of their games, their pre- and post- game celebrations.
Overall, St. John does, in fact, deliver on his subtitle: a behind-the-scenes look at the Super Bowl. He takes the reader on a journey, beginning with the end of Super Bowl XLI and culminating in Super Bowl XLII. Overall, St. John’s text is too detailed and overwhelms the reader. The timeline is hard to follow and seems to skip abruptly from one topic to the next. Though some interesting information is included, “The Billion Dollar Game” fails to entice and engage the reader in its entirety.