Super Bowl is my Super Bowl

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The appeal of Super Bowl for a person who doesn’t watch sports

“Who’s playing in the Super Bowl this year?” I asked my husband in passing the other day. (I don’t really care who’s playing the Super Bowl. I was just asking to be polite.)

“The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers,” he announced. (According to google, that’s what he probably said. What I actually heard was, “The Guys From Somewhere and Those Other Guys.”)

Image from Duke Universities Libraries Digital Collections


“Oh yeah?” I replied. By this time I had stopped listening, and withdrawn eye contact, lest my interest in the subject be interpreted as anything but a symbolic gesture of marital good will. “They any good?”

After 15 years of marriage, you’d think there would be no more surprises, but the look on my husband’s face reassured me that I can still take his breath away.


“Oh. Right.”

There was a time when I did get excited about the Super Bowl. Not over trifling details like who was playing in it, but as a cultural happening. If there was ever an athletic event made for people who don’t care about sports, Super Bowl is it. Super Bowl is our Super Bowl, you could say.

For one thing, it’s not a game, it’s a show. There may be a game going on somewhere within the spectacle, but the football in a Super Bowl is like the groom at a wedding. It technically has to be there, but it’s hardly the focus. The main purpose of the game in Super Bowl is to give viewers an opportunity to take bathroom breaks and refill their plate.

Which brings me to the star attraction: the menu. Super Bowl is a license to binge on foods that should ordinarily disgust you. Dips from synthetic cheese with the viscosity of warm latex, meats made from unspeakable bits of pig anatomy, “recipes” that call for stirring a can of this with two cans of that. It’s the anti-foodie showcase, a race to the bottom both in culinary and gastronomic terms, and it is delicious.

It should be loads of fun, but it almost never is. One year, I helped organize a Super Bowl party among some friends, at which everyone had a smashing time, except my husband, who had the strange idea that we were all there to watch the game. As I recall, the ride home was spent in silent, mutual meditation on the timeless Zen riddle, What the Hell is Wrong With You.

Since giving up on the theme party aspect of Super Bowl, I have attempted to convert it into an occasion for wholesome family fun. Thanks to advertisers, we can usually squeeze in a few rounds of Let’s Talk About Sex and Alcohol, or the hilarious, Do You Think  Guys Are Really That Stupid. And everyone’s favorite, Why Does Go Daddy Hate Women? 

Then there is the halftime show. Super Bowl halftime is where rock and roll goes to die. I don’t even want to know who is playing this year. Someone who used to be culturally relevant, and is now one halftime show away from becoming a Vegas act. Even when they manage to book someone still kicking (Prince and Tom Petty come to mind), it usually blows. It’s not the musicians’ fault; it’s the whole bloated production. Super Bowl halftime is Fat Elvis.

I have no reason to expect that this year will be any different than Super Bowl Sundays past, but I’ll plug in the crock pot and rally everyone to the living room sofa just the same, while The Guys from Somewhere and Those Other Guys give us an excuse to hang out. I’ll be vexed and amused by the gross excess, the insults to one’s digestion and intelligence, the dumb stereotypes and dopey cliches. Somehow, that has become the tradition. I guess, for me, that’s what Super Bowl is all about.

What else would it be? Football?

Don’t be ridiculous.

Kyran Pittman is the author of Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life. She is a frequent contributor to Good Housekeeping magazine, and continues to chronicle her semi-domesticated life at Planting

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