The Super Bowl has finally been accepted. It has achieved a prominence, a stature, a recognition never before accorded it. And thousands, nay millions, of Americans probably missed it.
There it was, plain as Astroturf, on page 1855 of the Jan. 9 Federal Register (45 FR 1855, for those who speak in letters and numbers). An ordinary, everyday Federal Register heading that might have been easily overlooked: Civil Aeronautics Board 14-CFR Part 380 [Regulation SPR-168; Special Regulations Amdt. No. 9; Docket 37183] Public Charter; Consumer Protections for Super Bowl Charter Participants Agency: Civil Aeronautics Board. Action: Final Rule.
Actually, the two little words that separate this notice from the notices on grading standards for brussels sprouts (45 Fr 1046) and the import investigation of compact cyclotrons with a pre-septum (44 FR 76868) are "Super" and "Bowl." Everybody knows that "final rules" are a dime a dozen when it comes to the Federal Register's daily listing of federal agency regulations -- as commonplace as "remedial orders" and "watershed projects."
And everybody knows that it's no great shake to read about the Super Bowl in the Federal Register's companion publication, the Congressional Record. Anybody who wins anything -- from the Boola Boola High School Debating Medallion to the Condo Conversion King Award of Merit -- gets mentioned in the Congressional Record.
The Super Bowl is no exception. Just a year ago, for example, on Jan. 22, 1979, Rep. William S. Moorehead (D-Pa.) rose "to notify the House" (as if "the House" had been under a rock in the Khyber Pass on Super Sunday) that "yesterday the Pittsburgh Steelers became the football champions of the world by winning the Super Bowl over the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31."
But why, you ask, is the Super Bowl given its own notice in the Jan. 9 Register squeezed right in there between "state usury laws" and "CAB delegations of authority"?
Because the Civil Aeronautics Board wanted to ensure that consumers who are promised tickets to the Super Bowl game as part of a charter flight package actually receive those tickets, or at least receive a refund of the total charter price of the tickets are not supplied as promised.
In issuing SPDR-75 (that's the CAB's code for its proposed ruling in the Dec. 4 Register), the CAB noted that many charter operators had been advertising and selling seats on Super Bowl charters when they did not have either possession of or binding commitments for, any game tickets.
In several instances, according to the CAB charter operators had been unable to get game tickets for people to whom they had promised them and, as a result, the people were unable to attend the game -- usually their sole reason for purchasing the charter transportation.
So, the CAB is amending 14 CFR Part 380 (as you might have already guessed) to add a new $ 380.18a, "Super Bowl Charters," to Subpart B of the table of contents, not to mention the amendments to Sections 380.2, 380.28, 380.31, 380.32 and 380.33.
The new rule "required that charter operators marketing charters to the National Football League Super Bowl file proof of their possession of game tickets or their contract for the game tickets with the CAB before advertising or accepting money for the charter." The rule also requires that consumers receive a full refund if they do not receive the promised game tickets.
In the nick of time!