There Was a Football Game Sunday

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl yesterday. Ten of millions of Americans and billions of people around the world also didn’t watch the Super Bowl yesterday. There are various reasons for our lack of viewership. For many of us non-watchers, it was a matter of dealing with civil wars or famines. For others, the lack of a television set provided the biggest impediment. And for a lot of people, it came down to simply not caring about the game. You can put me in that final category.

It’s not that I’m not a sports fan; I love hockey (in fact, I did watch NBC’s coverage of the Caps/Penguins hockey game earlier in the day), and I’ve spent way too much of my life watching and listening to baseball games. (Is that actually possible?) But, for whatever reasons, football has never appealed to me. I’ve attended a handful of regular-season games when owners have been kind enough to invite me to sit in a suite and eat free food, but I’ve never actually attended a post-season game or—except for a few ESPN highlights—watched any football game on television.

I say all this because, in recent years, I’ve run into a growing sense of disbelief—and even borderline anger—when the subject comes up. I don’t know how many Super Bowls have been played (somewhere between XL and L, I think), but the fact that I’ve never seen one is beginning to rub some people the wrong way. Many are starting to demand an explanation. It’s not quite flag-burning, but, for some of my friends, it’s getting close. I get the same looks I’d get if I told a liberal friend that I owned a gun or a conservative friend that I missed watching Keith Olbermann. Now that there’s talk of making a holiday of Super Monday to allow hungover fans to recover from Super Sunday (a Super Ridiculous idea, by the way), I feel a vague, but growing, intimation of anti-Americanism because of my refusal to watch.

Aside from not enjoying the sport much, I guess you can chalk up some of my disinterest to a contrarian streak in my nature. When media outlets spend weeks pounding home the importance of an event, I find myself resisting the push. Part of the problem is that the two-week span between the NFL conference finals and the Super Bowl can only be filled by hyperbole and numbing repetition. (Did you know the opposing coaches yesterday were brothers?) It seems to me the gap was shortened to one week for a few seasons, but that plan apparently led to stripped gears on hype machines all across the country.

There are some viewers who claim they watch Super Bowls mainly for the halftime shows or the commercials, but it’s a perversely strange thought to envision these people fast-forwarding through the game on their DVR in order to arrive at the next car ad. There is, however, something I like very much about the Super Bowl. It provides a great chance to go out to an empty movie theater or restaurant. In fact, I did have a nice Italian meal last night, although I had to position myself carefully to avoid seeing the game on the television at the bar. Oh, and I had to eat alone; most of my friends and family were watching the Super Bowl. Anyone available for dinner on Academy Awards night?

  1. Sheila

    Applause, applause, applause!

  2. Tommy De Seno
    C

    Communist heathen! 

  3. Spin

    I am with you, Pat.  My family and I went to the movies and watched “Parental Guidance” with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  There were 5 of us and we made up about a third of the audience.  

    I am right there with you, however.  ”Oh, you’re one of them?”  That’s what you get when you tell folks you have no plans for Super Bowl Sunday.

  4. skipsul

    I’ve not watched a game since 1986, when the game was played on my birthday and my Dad governed the TV (I was only a kid).

    Never cared for football of any sort, and baseball broke my heart years ago with a strike, interleague play, doping, and the demolition of perfectly good ballparks in favor of taxpayer blackmailed fancy new ones.

    This makes it hard to make friends.

    I spent last night paying bills.

  5. Tsunami Blue

    I have started attending high school football games to support a young friend who is a cheerleader. I find the games painfully boring (perhaps I should have posted this comment under a pseudonym?) and long, except for the cheer leading. I took my husband to one and halfway through the second period he innocently asked, “when are they going to start the game?”

    What small interest they held consisted of the puzzling behavior on the field (why are those men running back and forth with those upside down exclamation marks? Why is that man throwing a handkerchief around? Which team am I supposed to be rooting for again?) but now that I know the answers I am reduced to borrowing my husband’s tablet and playing Angry Birds (a tedious time waster in its own right).

    I enjoy basketball, soccer and  baseball if I know someone who is playing, but it mystifies me that the whole country hibernates over the Super Bowl.

  6. Casey
    Pat Sajak: Anyone available for dinner on Academy Awards night?

    Perhaps.  When is it?

  7. Tennessee Patriot

    You should listen to your friends. They love you and care for you. Football rocks and is pro-American. There is no stupid organ music- they play hard rock! Have you checked out the cheerleaders? Baseball has a guy in a stupid costume. You have been in California too long. Time to buy some guns and enjoy football!

  8. Leigh
    Pat Sajak:

     I get the same looks I’d get if I told a liberal friend that I owned a gun or a conservative friend that I missed watching Keith Olbermann. Now that there’s talk of making a holiday of Super Monday to allow hungover fans to recover from Super Sunday (a Super Ridiculous idea, by the way), I feel a vague, but growing, intimation of anti-Americanism because of my refusal to watch.

    Pick a really bad team.  Make a vow that you won’t watch the Superbowl until they’re in it.  Then you can attribute your lack of interest to fanatical team loyalty, and avoid the impression of un-Americanism.

  9. Tennessee Patriot
    Spin: I am with you, Pat.  My family and I went to the movies and watched “Parental Guidance” with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  There were 5 of us and we made up about a third of the audience.  

    I am right there with you, however.  ”Oh, you’re one of them?”  That’s what you get when you tell folks you have no plans for Super Bowl Sunday. · 6 minutes ago

    Spin: You missed a great football game AND watched Bette Midler instead? And you are not ashamed to announce this publicly? Time to get some counseling, buy some guns, and enjoy football!

  10. Spin

    How is football “pro-American?”  I think football, at least professional football, is pro-”make a big dumb guy so rich he doesn’t care that he has brain damage but he wouldn’t know anyway because he’s so big and dumb”.  

    I mean, I don’t mind watching a game.  I don’t care who wins or loses.  But pro-american is a little rich, isn’t it?  It’s not any more “American” than any other sport, I don’t think.  

  11. Scott R

    A couple of us were here with Prof. Rahe discussing John Boehner.

    L-o-o-o-o-sers, we are.

    College football is where it’s at anyway. 

  12. Pilli

    Patrick!  I cannot believe you would ignore the one, last, real, holiday we have in America.

  13. Caryn

    You miss watching Keith Olbermann?!

    Actually never watched him.  Don’t have cable. 

    I also do not get the allure of football.  Baseball, yes.  So, I’m with you, Pat.  I worked last night and had a quiet, productive night.

    For several years we had a family tradition of gathering with my in-laws to watch the game.  I’d make chili and corn bread; mom would supply a salad or snacks and I would watch the commercials and go to the kitchen during the game.  Dad was the big fan; the rest of us did it for the social gathering.  He died a year ago, Dec 26th.  We did the usual gathering last year, pretty much in his honor, with siblings and grandkids.  This year, no one was interested.  I miss him and the tradition.  The game, not slightly.

  14. Robert Promm

    As far as I’m concerned, football season was over when ‘bama trounced Notre Dame.  :-)

  15. skipsul
    Leigh

    Pat Sajak:

     I get the same looks I’d get if I told a liberal friend that I owned a gun or a conservative friend that I missed watching Keith Olbermann. Now that there’s talk of making a holiday of Super Monday to allow hungover fans to recover from Super Sunday (a Super Ridiculous idea, by the way), I feel a vague, but growing, intimation of anti-Americanism because of my refusal to watch.

    Pick a really bad team.  Make a vow that you won’t watch the Superbowl until they’re in it.  Then you can attribute your lack of interest to fanatical team loyalty, and avoid the impression of un-Americanism. · 11 minutes ago

    This works for baseball too – I rooted for years for the Indians, the most reliably bad team around, then they got good, now they’re mediocre so it’s safe to root for them again.

  16. David Williamson

    The Super Bowl is one area where I definitely haven’t been assimilated into US culture. It seems to be like Rugby, but with a lotta extra padding.

    So, I was able to rent a tennis ball machine at my country club, and the courts were empty :-)

    It was on at the Vietnamese restaurant where we had dinner, after. It was almost empty and nobody was paying much attention to the TVs on the wall.

    I did like Beyonce’s body, though (am I allowed to write that?).

    The meal was over after the interval – I have been told today that I missed the best part. I’m inclined to disagree.

  17. Misthiocracy

    I read Gladiator instead.

  18. Brian Clendinen

    I like football, but don’t love it but I went to a friends surprise birthday party instead which had no TV and had a blast. Much more fun than watching a good football game with a couple of other friends I am not as close with.

    Heck I am an FSU fan yet did not bother to watch a single game last sesion even though College Football is my favorite sport.  About the only sporting event I will make sure I always watch is the World Cup Final. However, the game only last about half the time and are only ever 4 years.

    Pat the on crazy people are the one who think your unAmerican for of never seeing a super bowl . Their a lot like the people who say playing soccer is un-american or you not a real American Male if you don’t enjoy or watch baseball.

     

    Actually I think it is weird that pretty much no one in the U.S. has World Cup Final parties like the rest of the world. It is the single most watched individual game world wide.

  19. Joseph Stanko
    Spin:  

    It’s not any more “American” than any other sport, I don’t think.

    Football is the most distinctively American sport because:

    1. It’s the most popular sport in the U.S.A.

    2. It’s not played anywhere else in the world*
    3. Aside from the occasional imported kicker, all the players are Americans
    4. Other countries even call it “American football” to distinguish it from the kind of football they play

    Baseball and basketball were invented here too, but have now spread and become genuine international sports with leagues in other countries, international championships, and lots of foreign players in MLB and the NBA.  And hockey is a Canadian sport that’s now popular worldwide.

    Football is ours, and ours alone.

    (* granted Canadian football is remarkably similar, but still different enough that I consider it technically a distinct sport)

  20. Joseph Stanko
    Brian Clendinen: About the only sporting event I will make sure I always watch is the World Cup Final.

    Actually I think it is weird that pretty much no one in the U.S. has World Cup Final parties like the rest of the world. It is the single most watched individual game world wide.

    In my experience most World Cup fans are liberals.

    Liberals like to follow soccer because the rest of the world likes it and Americans don’t.  It makes them feel cosmopolitan and worldly.

    Conservatives like football for the opposite reason: it celebrates American exceptionalism that our most popular sport is one no one else plays.

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