Nothing will give you a lesson in recency bias than to declare something that just happened is the best of its kind to ever happen.
It happens with movies you just saw and meals you just ate — how many times have you declared you just finished the best pizza ever? — and it quite certainly happens with sporting events.
Not surprisingly, it’s already happening with Super Bowl 52. As crews work to dismantle everything that was built in recent weeks and months, fans are still talking about the seemingly non-stop action and momentum swings from the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the Patriots and wondering: Where does that Super Bowl rank among the best ever?
It seems like we ask that question almost annually these days, and it’s for a simple reason: There have been a lot of really good Super Bowls in recent years.
So let’s tackle that question and another: Where does it rank among the best bigtime sporting events held in Minnesota?
THINGS WE KNOW FOR SURE
*Well, this first one is easy. That game was much better than the previous Super Bowl played in Minnesota in 1992. Washington beat Buffalo 37-24 in that one, and it wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Washington led 24-0 early in the third quarter and 37-10 late before a couple of meaningless late Bills touchdowns made the score closer.
*Sunday’s game was not, however, the greatest sporting event played in Minnesota. It’s hard to imagine anything ever topping Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a 1-0 Twins victory over the Braves at the Metrodome.
THINGS THAT ARE DEBATABLE
*It’s probably not fair to compare a neutral site game like a Super Bowl to a home event like the World Series. As noted, Sunday’s game totally overwhelmed the other Super Bowl held here (and, um, the halftime show was an upgrade, too). I’d say it was also better than either NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four held here (Duke won fairly handily in both 1992 and 2001).
The PGA Championships held here in 2002 and 2009 had great drama, both times with Tiger Woods unable to defeat an out-of-nowhere challenger. The Ryder Cup was an awesome, major event. But this Super Bowl arguably tops all of those.
*From start to finish, Sunday’s game was in the conversation as the best Super Bowl ever. A lot of the games we think of as great are actually just games that end with a lot of drama. Last year’s Super Bowl — where the Falcons built a 28-3 lead, only to have the Patriots come back and win in overtime — might fit that category. Eagles/Patriots was close and tense throughout.
But declaring something subjective to be the best thing ever is an exercise in futility. You can’t quantify a feeling, and you can’t eliminate your own biases. It’s one thing, for instance, to say Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer of his NBA generation because you can add up the points and come to an objective conclusion. It’s quite another to say he’s the greatest player of all time.
Let’s just say Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the greatest one I’ve seen until the next greatest one I haven’t seen yet.