Super Bowl Blues: A 10-Step Sporting Guide to Cure Your NFL Withdrawal
The last remnants of cheese dip have completely dissolved into the couch, the keg shell has made it back to the store, and the guy living on your futon since game-day has finally found his way home.
You’ve debated every aspect of the big game with anyone at the office water cooler willing to listen.
Lately, no one is willing. Sophie from accounting is buying bottled water to avoid you altogether.
"Did you see the commercial with the talking baby, and the ape driving the—"
“Yes, we've talked about it, several times," Sophie cuts you off noticeably perturbed.
The harsh reality is beginning to set in—football is over and there is no addiction patch in sight.
You find yourself wandering the streets with your La-Z-Boy on rollers and bowl of pretzels in hand, looking for any football you can find. Even fourth-graders playing pick up games on the street are starting to get your attention.
Your wife got word the season was over once Giselle commented on the game and expects your return on Sundays. Calls like “Wes Welker over the middle,” will now be replaced by “Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Soon, you'll be visiting every Crabree & Evelyn within a 100 mile radius.
You need help.
If you think you can get by watching regular season NBA games, you are probably someone who would find enjoyment watching two sloths play chess. I've done studies. Completely equal entertainment value.
The Jeremy Lin excitement has been like a band-aid for a broken femur, but now the training wheels are off and you have to find a way to guide your rickety Schwinn all the way until March Madness, when sports return to normalcy.
So what now?
Help is here.
This list of sporting excellence I've conjured up should keep your attention and if correctly followed, Dick Vitale should be knocking at your door before you know it.
These events can be followed every year, so feel free to tuck this one away for next season as well.
Unless perhaps you already bought a frequent buyer's card to Bed, Bath & Beyond?
U.S. National Toboggan Championships
Typical Date: Second or third weekend in February
Where: Camden, Maine
If spooning your closest buddies in the freeze of winter and torpedoing down slick ice is your ideal way to spend a Saturday, then entering this event might be for you.
For the rest of you looking for relief from a boring regular season NBA game, tuning in to this yearly classic of sledding debauchery may just pass the time.
Now in its 22nd year, the Toboggan Championship draws thousands of fans eager to cheer on their sledding idols to victory, or watch them make complete fools of themselves. Both are equally acceptable results.
Check your local listings for time and channel.
Inazawa Naked Festival
Date: 13th day of the lunar New Year
Location: Inazawa City, Japan
If I was able to consult a top astronomer prior to writing this article, this slide would have an actual date. Since resources are tight, you'll need to study up on your lunar cycles before checking your TV Guide.
This event isn't too much different than most sports, other than the fact that bare-bottomed men ages 23-43 crowd the city streets in hopes of touching another naked man.
A naked man is chosen before the event and then besieged by 9,000 men, in loincloths all desperate to ensure their luck for the year.
Call your cable provider for times and channel.
World Shovel Race Championships
Typical Date: Second or third weekend in February
Location: Angel Fire Resort, New Mexico
For some, just the sight of snow and a shovel psychosomatically triggers back pain, bringing you back to chilly mornings clearing the driveway.
For these fearless racers, back pain is the least of their worries.
Rocketing down the mountain at speeds upwards of 70 mph with only a shovel for protection, racers must do their best job not to maim themselves in the process of securing the best race times.
Since 1973 the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico has hosted this spectacular sport, which is believed to have been created out of the idea of winter trail maintenance crews riding their shovels down the mountain at the end of their work day.
Riders sit on scoop shovels with their legs to the sides and use the handle for steering. A modified version on the sport actually made it to ESPN's Winter X Games in 1997, but was quickly removed when several riders suffered major injuries (wow, we never saw that coming).
Don't forget to set your TV reminders and get your driveway shoveled early so you don't miss any of the action.
Carnival of the Deer Man
Typical Date: Third week in February
Location: Castelnuovo del Volturno, Isernia County, Italy
This epic saga between a grown man dressed up in a deer outfit and a holy man acting as a saint is probably more than enough to make Bambi’s ancestors shutter in their thickets. The regular man, morphed into an impervious, antlered brute, comes down from the hills to wreak havoc among herds of cattle, until confronted by a saintly figure wearing a fairy hat.
The holy man succeeds where the cattle could not by summoning a nearby hunter, who blows softly into the antlered beast’s ear that in turn destroys the sins and evils of the past year.
It makes perfect sense.
Check your On Demand for times and channel, but if anyone on the show asks you to drink the Kool-Aid, please refrain.
Trenary Outhouse Classic
Typical Date: Last Saturday in February
Location: Trenary, Michigan
The best part about an outhouse is waiting for your buddy to succumb to the screams from his bladder in the stadium parking lot and then doing your best job to tip it over while he is inside, before the police catch a glimpse of your plight.
The Trenary Classic, established in 1994, has succeeded where you and your drunken chums could not—by making this tomfoolery not only legal, but an event for the entire family.
The homemade outhouses are placed on skis and pushed down Trenary's Main Street, in hopes of glory. The team with the fastest times—and who didn't forget to flush—are deemed the winner.
Grab your favorite roll of toilet paper and get your remote ready. This one is not to be missed.
Showa-Shinzan International Snowball Tournament
Typical Date: Last weekend in February
Location: Mt. Showa-Shinzan in Sobetsu, Japan
Typically, snowball fights end when your sister is unable to sustain your icy arsenal and goes running into the house crying for Mommy.
This frostbit-ridden battle, formally known as the Yukigassen Tournament, takes the match from friendly fire to two days of chilly bloodshed.
Started in 1989 to encourage more tourists to come to the area, this onslaught takes place at the base of a Japanese volcano. One would have to assume there isn't a whole lot to do in the area if all they had to do to convince 28,000 onlookers to stand at the epicenter of a potentially cataclysmic event for two days was to offer a snowball fight.
I'm guessing a clown and a bouncy castle would've done just the trick—with eighty percent less chance of a ruptured retina for the participants—but these sort of conservative ideas will get me kicked off the Japanese tourist board every time.
Teams of seven compete against each other for snowy supremacy. Each team has 90 snowballs to launch at their opponent. The winner is typically determined by which squad drills the most opponents, who is able to fend off hypothermia the longest, or who hasn't been swallowed up by the surging river of molten lava from an erupting volcano.
Check your local listings, grab a warm alcoholic drink and enjoy.
Frozen Dead Guy Days
Typical Date: First weekend in March
Location: Nederland, Colorado
After a stressful week at the office many find relief in a good book, a night out or catching up with close friends. In Nederland, Colorado, frozen turkey bowling, coffin racing, frozen salmon tossing and polar plunging (pictured) get the job done for these morbid sporting junkies.
Crowds from all over flock to this eccentrically entertaining festival, created all because of a frozen dead guy who resides in a shed. Literally. After more twists and turns than a Nancy Drew novel, a cryogenically frozen Norwegian man made his way to the hills of Nederland and from his tale, the event was born.
If you think your elite bowling skills will translate with frozen poultry then maybe you'll want to consider competing in these games—but if not, check your local listings and tune into this wild and colorful three-day festivity.
Subway Bed Race
Typical Date: First weekend in March
Location: Burnsville, Minnesota
In the movie Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Charlie's four grandparents weren't able to do the things grandparent's typically yearn for, like participate in shovel races, attend carnivals with men dressed as deer and push an outhouse down frozen streets in Michigan.
The Subway Bed Races, done every March for charity, finally answer the bed-ridden fogeys' prayers.
Teams of four race down Buck Hill in Burnsville, and all proceeds go to help families transitioning out of homelessness.
Settle in on your most comfortable mattress at home and do some channel surfing to find this one.
Amsterdam Stiletto Run
Typical Date: Early March
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Spain may have Running of the Bulls, but Amsterdam has Running of the Stilettos. Every March, Hundreds of female shopaholics dash down Amsterdam's most popular fashion street with aspirations of victory.
The start of the race begins with pushing and elbowing as the racers jockey for position. First place wins a 10,000 euro shopping spree, so it is safe to say that women will do whatever it takes to bring home the prize. Face plants and ankle injuries are common and after watching these crazy bargain hunters in action, an impaling from a bull doesn't sound so bad after all.
The race's slogan, "Shopping is a Sport," may help explain why I can play six games of basketball without feeling fatigued, but can barely make it through the front door of a Macy's before muscle weakness kicks in.
Check the shopping channel for times and scheduling.
Wife Carrying Championships
Typical Date: Early July
Location: Sonkajärvi, Finland
By this point of the lackluster sports month, most of you will be having visions of bracketology dancing in your heads. Before you completely slip back into the normal sports routine, there is one more event that you should start thinking about. I know this doesn't fall on the calendar, but now is a good time to start training to make sure your wife is at her lightest come July.
With roots dating back to the early 1800’s, when men actually did sneak into neighboring towns and carry fellow mates’ wives off into the night, instead of present day when they just sneak into strip joints when their own wife is asleep, this humorous yet competitive event draws competitors from all over.
Men must carry their wives a tumultuous 253.5 meters over sand, grass, gravel and water hazards, stopping only to throw back the “wife carrying drink,” at special checkpoints. Before the barbarian in you tries to pull a fast one and buy that sixteen year old, sixty-five pound nanny from down the street a one-way ticket to Finland to claim your victory, you should know some of rules instituted by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee
1) “The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or you may have found her farther afield; (I no idea what this means, but it doesn't sound like nannies are excluded). She must, however, be over 17 years of age. (Well, there goes that idea). The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilos."
2) “If a contestant drops his wife, he has to relift her on to his back or in his arms and continue carrying.” (This seems obvious to me, but after a swift kick in the groin from your angry wife, you may not be thinking correctly and need this spelled out for you)
In conclusion, if you follow this simple program I’ve created, the names Eli Manning, Ray Rice, and Patrick Willis will soon only be a figment of your imagination. On the other hand, you may wake up in a cold sweat after antlered deer men, frozen dead guys, and bare-bottomed Japanese men visit you in your dreams.