Today was a day I will remember for a long time. I loved spending time with Janet, Kristin and her three boys, Connor, Carter and Cooper this afternoon and evening. But for most of the time we were together, we were awash in a sea of humanity in downtown Indianapolis as we attended the NFL Experience – a celebration of Super Bowl week and the upcoming game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants that will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday.
Now most of you who know me realize that I am not a fan of large crowds and let’s suffice it to say it is not my favorite thing to spend hours standing in unending lines, or walking miles through a maze of stuff designed to test skills in kicking, passing, long-snapping, catching and a host of other football related activities. After all, I’m built for comfort, not speed. But the kids all loved it, and so did Janet and Kristin, so it was worth it. And it was fun to see the older guys – you know, the week-end warriors – long past their prime, trying to recapture their youth on the artificial turf and reclaim glory long ago forgotten.
From the comfort of my recliner, the place where I write my post each night, I can look back on the day and be glad that I went through the experience, but in all honesty, I have had an hour or so to chill out and I am much calmer now than I was earlier in the evening. Some of the soreness in my knees and back is also starting to disappear.
The chance is remote that Indy will ever host the Super Bowl again, at least in the near term and everyone we know either has or will be going downtown to experience the excitement of a Super Bowl week firsthand. And it is a frenzy. Many streets have been closed off and have become pedestrian walkways, complete with stages and live venues including a variety of sponsor tents and souvenirs. One good thing is that the people of Indy are very friendly and I can hardly imagine what it would have been like if this event was in New York or somewhere else where people do not have that midwestern commitment to congeniality. I was really impressed with the number of people who apologized when they walked in front of us or ran into us.
But that is small consolation in view of the fact that there were many thousands of people in line ahead of us. To give you an idea of the crowds, Saturday and Sunday each boasted more than 42,000 people in the area. And according to the NFL, Indianapolis is now hosting the most attended NFL Experience in league history. Quite an accomplishment for a second tier city – but let’s face it – Indy has the sports stuff down cold – with the Indy 500, the NCAA headquarters, the Natatorium and a number of other high profile venues in the city.
Thankfully, as a result of the suggestion from a friend of mine who works downtown, we were able to park in Circle Centre, the downtown mall, for $20 and walk less than a mile to the entrance of the convention center where the NFL Experience was being held. We had purchased our tickets online, but once we were admitted, at the 4:00 pm time on our tickets, we had quite a long time in line waiting to sign our accident waivers and get wristbands allowing the kids to participate in the various activities. Although the adults also received bands, I really didn’t need one to drink the Diet Pepsi Janet and I shared while we waited for the boys to engage in the activities for children their ages… Oh, well….
I just couldn’t believe how long the lines were for each activity. Janet is a firm believer that we should do these things with a happy heart, and she is right. Sometimes it just takes me a little longer to get there…. But the boys loved it and that made it worth the effort.
I don’t know where my dislike of large crowds originally came from. I think that it has something to do with the idea of how much time it takes to do things and how long you stand around with non-productive time. I have trouble just enjoying the moment at these kinds of events. I look for the most efficient ways to get from place to place and how we can best orchestrate our effort to maximize the experience in a minimum of time. Sometimes I just need to be still….
But there were people who were really getting into the whole thing. Some of the most popular attractions were zip lines for people who wanted to ride above the chaos and stages with performers who entertained the crowds. The zip line was more than 8 stories high and 800 feet long – longer and higher than the Olympic one in Vancouver. St. John’s, one of the oldest churches in the city and across the street from the entrance to the Experience, even had a sign that read, “If you think the zip line was thrilling, come on in and spend a few minutes with Jesus.” I loved it – the sign that is; I didn’t do the ride…. You could even go inside the church and have your picture taken with a cardboard cut-out of the Pope and, you guessed it, there was even a line for that.
Before we left, we got shirts for all the grandchildren and numerous remembrances of the day. We actually saw the Vince Lombardi trophy, from a short distance, as the line was so long, and more than 45 Super Bowl rings from years past. We got dinner for everyone and the evening started to wind down.
The verse for this evening is advice that I need to follow, from Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…” My encouragement this evening is that God knows when you need a little rest after a long, sometimes anxious day. As I sit here finishing up, I can just feel His presence continuing to calm me in anticipation of a good night’s rest. My prayer is that you will always feel the presence of God around you, even in the crowds and the turmoil of a Super Bowl Experience. Because God always wants you to have a Super Day – with Him.