I love the Super Bowl. It’s the one sporting event that can rope in even those most apathetic about sports. It’s an event that has something for everyone, whether it be the game, the halftime show or the commercials. Heck, it’s the only program on television in which people make a point to watch the commercials which, in this day and age, is saying something. Because of its nearly universal appeal, the Super Bowl is a perfect event to have a party for.
Some people like going to a bar for the Super Bowl, but I don’t. Very often, bars have a cover charge to watch the game there, you have to get to the bar early to get a decent seat and it’s not always easy to hear the commercials; I prefer the intimacy of a Super Bowl party. For one, I like being able to arrive minutes before kickoff and plopping in front of someone else’s large high-definition television (if you don’t have a large HDTV, you shouldn’t be hosting a Super Bowl party). Also, since the Super Bowl is an event that transcends sports, I don’t feel the need to watch it only with hardcore football fans and I like the mixture of personalities you get at a Super Bowl party (more on that later). Sure, there may not be enough seats for everyone at a Super Bowl party, but I don’t mind that as long as there’s plenty of floor space in front of the television.
One thing is certain: no matter how little you care about football, you should never arrive at a Super Bowl party once the game starts; people watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game, so you don’t want to be the one who forces your host to divert his or her eyes from the television to let you into their home. If I hosted a Super Bowl party, I’d probably be like that one high school teacher everyone had who closed and locked his or her classroom door once the late bell rang; the kickoff is the late bell. Unlike other parties, there’s no need to show up “fashionably late” for a Super Bowl party.
I love the people at Super Bowl parties. This year, my New York Giants are playing, so I’m going to be the guy every party has who shows up wearing a lot of his team’s gear, yells at the television, claps and fist pumps incessantly and jumps out of his seat when something good or bad happens; the fan that everyone will be congratulating if his team wins and trying to console if his team loses. Part of me hopes there’s an equally obsessed New England Patriots fan at the party I’m attending who can serve as the yin to my yang. When the Giants and Patriots met in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, I was the lone Giants fan at the party I went to and me and the lone Patriots fan that was there refused to make eye contact during the game and we tried to outdo each other with our cheering and exhortations. I don’t know how much everyone else enjoyed our display, but it was a lot of fun for me, especially since my Giants prevailed at the end.
You can’t fake that passion for one of the Super Bowl teams, either. People often pick a Super Bowl team to root for, but you can tell who’s a true fan and who simply jumped on the bandwagon. If my team isn’t playing in the Super Bowl, then I don’t care who wins; I just want to see a good game. However, I love hearing people’s reasoning behind their Super Bowl team choice. There are the simple explanations like “I think Tom Brady is cute, so I want the Patriots to win”, or “I’m a Bills fan, so I can’t root for a fellow AFC East team. Go Giants!” Then, there are the complex explanations and the rooting choices made with seemingly little rhyme or reason: “I lived in Massachusetts when I was five and that’s where my brother was born, so I’m rooting for the Patriots”, “My sister lives six hours from New York City, so I hope the Giants win”, “I’ve always liked Samuel Adams beer, so Go Patriots!”, “My ex-boyfriend hates Tom Coughlin, so I want the Giants to win, just to spite him”.
Even though diehard fans of the Super Bowl participants are a must at any party, I also like mingling with the other types of people you find at every Super Bowl party. The intellectual who tries to act like he or she is above the fray and makes obscure analogies akin to the ones Dennis Miller made when he was a Monday Night Football commentator. The woman who isn’t much of a sports fan and makes comments like “Eli Manning’s eyes don’t seem like they’re the right size for his head” or “the New England coach looks fat in that hoody”. The woman who seems really quiet and stereotypically ladylike but is really into sports and has at least two surprising exhortations or salient comments during the game. The incredibly sarcastic guy who says things like “well, that’s not gonna help” when a team fumbles or “that was an awesome throw!” when a quarterback throws an interception (that may be me, if the Giants aren’t playing well). The really bored person who tries to get a few others to defect to the next room and play a board or card game (a pursuit that’s almost always unsuccessful). The guy who’s made several prop bets, leading him to exclaim over things like the coin toss coming up heads and the opening kickoff bouncing twice before being picked up by the returner (even better if the guy made a bunch of prop bets that have almost no chance of coming through, like betting on the first score being a safety). The guy who tries to act like he’s really knowledgeable about football, but winds up asking at least two really stupid questions during the game. The guy or girl who points out everyone who was on their fantasy football team that season and how good or bad they were for his or her team. The guy who thinks he’s John Madden or Cris Collinsworth and tries to break down every play. The guy who played high school and/or low-level college football and thinks that gives him an acute understanding of what NFL players are going through. The woman who asks a completely out-of-leftfield question at a key moment in the game and gets shushed.
One of my pet peeves is people leaving a Super Bowl party at halftime to go home or to another party. Unless you live across the street, there’s a family emergency or the babysitter can only watch your kids until the third quarter, it’s not okay to leave a Super Bowl party before the game ends. Unless the game’s a blowout. Then, you can leave as early as late in the third quarter. One of my favorite Super Bowl-party moments involved someone leaving at halftime. The last time I watched a Super Bowl at a bar (the event was sponsored by the radio station I worked at, I got in for free and several of my friends/co-workers were there), one of my bosses left right after the halftime show. But, this wasn’t just any halftime show; it was the legendary “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show in 2004 that involved Justin Timberlake inadvertently exposing one of Janet Jackson’s nipples – a classic “did I just see that?” television moment if there ever was one. And, it wasn’t just any boss leaving, but it was my boss who testified before a Congressional subcommittee on indecency in broadcasting just days before, in Washington, DC. So, when I saw my boss leaving, I asked him if it was because he had to return to Capitol Hill to testify again. Fortunately, my boss was amused, and I wasn’t fired.
There are two different types of hosts and you find out which one you have once the game ends. Some hosts want you to stick around to play cards, board games or watch whatever is coming on after the Super Bowl. Then, there are other hosts who want you to leave as soon as the game ends. I almost always leave after the game is over, because I usually have to work the next day and I’m rarely interested in whatever’s coming on after the game (this year, NBC will show “The Voice”. I’ll pass) although I don’t have a problem with whatever the host’s tactics may be after the Super Bowl ends. As with any other party, there are folks who want to keep the party going and folks who’ve realized they’ve had enough revelry for one evening.
Regardless of who you’re rooting for, regardless of where you watch it, the Super Bowl is usually a fun event, especially if you’re at the right party. But, if you pick a bad party, please don’t leave early. Unless there’s a stabbing or something.Follow @raford3