Tue, Feb

Column: An action-packed February weekend


A big weekend is coming up for sports. Saturday, Feb. 3, marks the 13th annual Sedona Marathon, one of the sparse weekends when people converge on red rock country for a sporting reason.

The marathon starts at 9 a.m., and there will be a half marathon, 10K and 5K run as well, each beginning 10 minutes after the prior in that order. Locals and visitors alike should cheer on the thousands of runners — 3,093 participated last year — as they start at the Sedona campus of the Verde Valley Medical Center, continue onto State Route 89A and Dry Creek Road before they disappear onto Boynton Canyon Road and into the Coconino National Forest.

It is a special event in terms of sports in Sedona because it is one of few that attracts people from beyond Arizona, and there are many buried stories amongst those people. Last year, Littleton, Colo., resident Daniel Gannon completed his 100th marathon in Sedona.

Other human-interest story ideas can be sent to dhargis@larsonnewspapers.com.

America’s Biggest Unofficial Holiday

Following the Sedona Marathon, many participants’ legs may be so sore that they cannot walk much. Not a problem, as the 2018 Super Bowl is on Sunday, Feb. 4.

It is not a recognized holiday in the United States, but it might as well be. Year after year, it is the most-watched event on television for the entire year.

Last year’s Super Bowl is ranked No. 4 with 111.3 million viewers. The 2015 Super Bowl, won by the New England Patriots by a 28-24 score over the Seattle Seahawks, is No. 1 at 114.4 million.

Certainly there are not more than 100 million sports fans in America, which is why it is the nation’s biggest unofficial holiday. People who are not fans of football, or sports in general, all congregate to friends’ and families’ homes to watch the game, and for one reason: Everyone else is too — even people in countries across the world.

In 2013, while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, I found a restaurant that was broadcasting the Super Bowl. It started after midnight, and compounded by the memorable 34-minute blackout in the stadium, I did not get back home until way-too-late and probably slept in class.

There is not another broadcast that keeps viewers’ eyes glued to the screen from start to finish. There is the actual game itself, which is usually entertaining, except for that one time, in recent memory, in 2014 when the Seahawks dominated Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos team for the totality of the game.

Then there are the world-famous commercials, which corporations pay disgustingly exorbitant amounts of money to get 30 seconds to a minute of air time. Nonetheless, they are always unique, usually entertaining and emotive at times. They are so popular, websites and media outlets will provide rankings of them the day after.

Don’t forget the halftime show. This year, Justin Timberlake takes the stage. But this time he’ll be alone, 14 years after that one controversial slip-up with Janet Jackson. [Side note: What a coincidence. In that same year, 2004, it was the Patriots against the Eagles. New England won 24-21]. The only thing missing is Tony Romo, retired quarterback turned into insightful commentator.

Perhaps the biggest winners on the day of the Super Bowl are fast food companies. Eye-popping numbers are released every year after the big game talking about how many pounds of chicken wings and who-knows-how-many pizzas are sold. New Year’s resolutions are certainly broken on this day, and gyms across the country packed the day after.

For those who like to gamble, there are tons of prop bets. Some include whether President Donald Trump will attend, if Tom Brady will wear a bandage on his hand and also how long the national anthem will last.

Looking at this year’s matchup, once again it will be the Patriots representing the AFC, taking on another bird-mascoted opponent from the NFC, in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last year, for those who don’t remember, the Patriots pulled off a historic comeback victory, beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime after being down 28-3 at halftime.

Maybe the Eagles will be the feathered foe that takes down the perennial powerhouse Pats this year, who are playing their third Super Bowl in the last four seasons.

In the name of the underdog, I would like to see Philadelphia win. But the reality is that the combination of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick is a strong one, and they have been on this stage many times. It is hard not to bet on them to win — unless you’re taking the points.

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Verde Valley Weather

Cottonwood United States Sunny, 39 °F
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