No hot chicken wings. No nachos. No hair-on-fire chili graced my house this past weekend. Super Bowl Sunday was a non-starter. I do admit to some cheese, but then there’s ALWAYS cheese. I don’t have one piece of licensed sports apparel and am completely guilt-free. The only yelling at the TV heard in my house were knee-jerk reactions to political reporting (which pretty much happens every day.) As both the most un-athletic fan in the room and a self-described renegade, the whole concept of the Super Bowl excites me as much as a Zombie Apocalypse. The hallowed sports day happened – it just didn’t happen here.
Super Bowl Sunday has become one of America’s biggest unofficial holidays. For weeks before the big game, commercials remind us to stock up for the event. Some even throw in a few ads that urge us to buy a spanking new flat-screen to watch that revered game on – just for good measure. You can’t be too over-the-top on this momentous day. Super Bowl parties, however, to us non-football fans, are just lame. They’ve become as American as Easter Egg hunts but with play by play narration. Did you know Super Bowl Sunday, overflowing with beer and obscene amounts of snacks, is second in consumption only after Thanksgiving? Uh huh.
With my lack of Super Bowl enthusiasm, it’s a wonder I’ve ever gotten a single invite to those galas yet I still receive them. And I feel more than a little guilty about that. I’m a decided football party-pooper, knowing from the minute I get a call-to-party, my mind races to conjure up a suitable excuse to skip the fete. Would a date with my trusty Waterpik sound reasonable?
For some sports rebels, Pinterest is like fantasy football. But, then not caring a fig about the game, makes you less stressed on big game days and no team ever breaks your heart. There are enough other things to do that. Sometimes, even when we have no pulse- racing affinity for any team, we become a fan by extension, like a genetic predisposition. We rah-rah the family brand because, God forbid, raising another set of colors (did I say I wasn’t into Football Con?) might be as unwelcome as the opposition political party and there’s more than enough of that. I wonder, though, knowing my everlasting love of formaggio, if being a Cheese Head might be acceptable.
For those of us who are sports ambivalent, rabid cheering for the team du jour falls into the “I don’t get it” category. By the way, why do guys shout instructions to coaches or players on TV when clearly, the objects of their irritation can’t hear a word they say? They will to do exactly what they damn please regardless of any armchair quarterback’s helpful diatribes. None of the overly enthusiastic grown ass men yelling (cursing, screaming) at an industrial size flatscreen apparently gets the memo that they are not on the coaching payroll. And when the team wins, what’s with all the chest bumping ‘we’ won anyway? Like Tonto once said to the Long Ranger, “Who’s ‘WE’, Kemo Sabe?” I’m pretty sure the team with the Empire State building size trophy is the only one getting the industrial size diamond rings, trips to Disneyworld and paycheck bonus you could retire to Monaco on.
To fans of America’s pigskin pastime, the Super Bowl is Oscar Night on steroids. This ticket frenzy year, nosebleed seats started at nearly $5,000; prime 50-yard line seating behind the bench went for $22,400. Holy crap! I can’t imagine ponying up the price of a small car to sit bundled up for hours, in freezing temps, to watch a ball get kicked back and forth. But then, my athleticsm would be a non-starter for everything sports, right? That is not to say I don’t covet front row seats at my grandsons’ varying sports forays. I’m the gramma paparazzi who voices embarrassingly loud cheers for the munchkins. But then everything is relative and if I’m gonna cheer, it’s going to be for my – lil relatives.
So what did I do on that Super-sized Sunday of athletic glory? I snuck down to hug two of my said small grandboys, one who lost yet another tooth gained an adorable lisp. I made sure my visit neatly preceded the game, knowing they and their dad would convene on the couch for snacks and cheering on whatever team they anointed that day. At home, I wrapped a few upcoming gifts, surfed Amazon, cleaned the bathroom, finally finished a book, poured over Sunday papers, deleted cell phone photos, watched a movie, and pretty much ignored the entire football hoopla. My version of a ‘super’ day.
Full disclosure – I did catch halftime and three accompanying commercials. I skipped the rest of the mega buck pay to play ads designed to sell the same products we ignor the rest of the year. Heart-melting puppy commercials can always be viewed on YouTube, where then I usually prefer TedTalks and Randy Rainbow videos. Having had an ad agency, I might be a tad jaded about inflated big money ad spots but for those deserving a Clio, they will be replayed endlessly during all your favorite shows from now on. So there’s that.
“The reason women don’t play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit I public”. Phyllis Diller
I maybe be an oddity of my gender. There are a heck of a lot of women who love football, in fact 45% of pro-football followers are women. In in awe of them, I’m just not one of them. It’s not a Venus and Mars thing; it’s just my thing. I suspect men (and my more sports-savvy women friends) reading this post will a. roll their eyes b. decide I’m a sports ignorant kook (you may be right) or c. want to teach me the game (others have tried). It’s possible that if I really understood the magic of the 20 yard line, I’d find an itsy modicum of enjoyment thereof. Then again – meh. I suspect I would be scratching my head about February’s football frenzy minus the Michelin men in tights (um, spandex) but then, that would make me sexist. (smiley face emoticon) I’ll just say that four and a half hours of criss-crossing a plastic pretend-grass field seems about as exciting to me as the endless litanies of thank-you’s on Oscar night might to you, so I guess we’re even.
Pro sports have long been thought a stand-in for warfare, soothing a savage inner beast that goes back to primitive times, tribal competition and the Roman Coliseum. Part of the romance of football may be conquest – it just hasn’t yet conquered me. Maybe envisioning athletes as our hulking, helmeted surrogate warriors, the embodiment of our best genetics protecting the tribe with a lot of testosterone thrown in, might help. Um, still nope.
Second down. Punt. Field goal. See? I have absorbed some of the lingo, if not the lovefest. If I was so inclined, other factors seem to have infected that cheery artificial turf, like the growing concern over concussions. No longer a dissed possibility, brain damaging concussions have been frighteningly annotated from HS fields to major football arenas. Boys’ and men’s lives have been forever altered for want of an often-violent game. Football increasingly protects the leagues more than the players. That pie-in-the-sky diamond ring seems hardly a fair trade.
Then there is the other artificially designed issue, which seems transparent and spiteful to some (okay, include me) and to others, a banner of patriotism. The First Amendment right to protest racial discrimination, in a quiet, respectful way, has been apparently lost. But then, that is not surprising given that there are ‘good people’ – on both sides. Unfortunately, the side of the ‘other’ is getting increasingly an entire football field short of a touchdown. The flag is a symbol of freedom for all, including those who kneel, not just those who stand. When deep divisions are inflamed, encouraged and mocked instead of unified, even something as generic as a game as American as apple pie, is reduced to crumbs. I may not care about the game, but I care about the country and that’s a game we can’t afford to lose. SAD.
Football is done for another year; basketball season will be in full swing. And yes, despite my husband’s teasing, I do know that the break in the game is called half-time and not intermission. But then, I caught him many times doing crossword puzzles, dozing off or switching to a thrilling episode of American Pickers during the Game of Games, so I guess that was another reason to love him. The only ‘Bowl’ in our house was filled with cheesy dip. These ol’ ad kids did, however, critique a few multi-buck commercials and always caught the score, lest we seem completely clueless. I guess, like so much else, I’m just continuing our tradition — and then some.
So, bye, bye Super Bowl. See you again – never. Well, almost never.