There are many reasons to become a sports journalist. Maybe you want to expose corruption, or do the kind of deep statistical analysis you can't find anywhere. Or maybe, like me, you just want to go to The Puppy Bowl.
If you've been living under a rock for the past decade, The Puppy Bowl is Animal Planet's solution to every television network's problem of what to broadcast against the nation's top-viewed program of the year. Now in its 10th year, The Puppy Bowl is the second-highest rated broadcast on the day of the Super Bowl.
The old adage in showbiz says never to work with animals or children, so the logistics of working with animals who are also children can be tricky. The 3-yard by 10-yard field is manned not only by the referee you see on television, but also animal handlers for each animal, numerous producers, and about 10 cameras to catch all the action. Also numerous? Big jars of peanut butter, which producers put on the camera lenses to get the puppies to lick them. This year's halftime performers will be Nigerian dwarf goats, who sources tell me "like to stand on boxes."
This year's roster is composed of 84 puppies from 37 shelters and private homes from around the country. These puppies are vetted (pun intended) by Animal Planet's casting directors, who have the enviable job of looking at puppy audition tapes in the weeks leading up to filming. Marcia Mansell and Kathy Jung of the Nevada SPCA told us that these audition tapes consist of "five minutes of them playing." The puppies were held in a large room adjacent to the studio in pens divided for different sizes of dogs. If you think this sounds like heaven, well, you're right.