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?