WITNESS THE American man. Once we slew mastodons with sticks, sailed fearsome oceans on a flat earth, crossed continents alone and rocketed to the moon.
Now? I troll the aisles of MyerEmco AudioVideo, Best Buy and Costco, tracking new prey.
I'm late to this hunt. My tribe—all iPhoned, BlackBerried and Bluetoothed—carped for decades about my technological backwardness, but it was always the TV that offended the most. I'd never bought a set: My first was a hand-me-down, a tiny black-and-white that friends replaced one day with color. That lasted 13 years, until a sports-drone buddy grew so insulted by my convex screen that he had a flat-screen delivered to my door.
Premium channels? Screen size? Picture quality? All that was lost on me, and behind their gibes I sensed a deep unease: I'd never upgraded. How can anyone hang with a guy like that?
Two weeks ago all that changed. "You watching this?" my big brother yelled over the phone. The Chargers were upsetting the Colts, but I couldn't watch: The screen had gone blank, and of course I had no clue why. I hammered the clicker, pounded the TV's flanks. Nothing. I hung up on my brother's pity, glared at my set and panicked.
"We're getting a new TV!" I shouted to the wife and kids.
Never mind that a quick unplug restored the picture; by then it was too late. My gadget-crazed son was whooping. I had declared myself. And like all men trapped by a rash decision—Napoleon invading Russia, Agassi shaving his body hair—I had no choice now but to go all the way. I dialed the sports drone.
"I'm going HD," I told him. "And I'm getting it in for this weekend's games."
"Finally," he said. "But this time of year you've got no shot."
No event drives TV sales like the Super Bowl, and the weeks leading to the AFC and NFC title games are like Christmas rush redux. In 2007 an estimated two million people bought high-definition TVs solely for Super Sunday. More are expected this year because, it seems, a true Super Bowl host would never subject guests to mere analog. People won't show up these days for anything less than state-of-the-art, and why should they? Even the lamest sports bar boasts a 50-inch plasma or LCD in high-def.