Americans love to party. Give us a place and a reason, and we’ll bring the fun. In the name of a good time, we can convince ourselves that Corona is a good beer on Cinco de Mayo or pinching someone because they’re not wearing green isn’t obnoxious on St Patty’s Day.
We may think that we’re celebrating Mexican Independence or an Irish saint who invented beer, but we’ll do it with smiles on. So making a big deal out of the Super Bowl should be an uncontested lay-up.
If they viewed a Super Bowl party from space, aliens would be forgiven for thinking we were holding some sort of annual mash-up of random American obsessions. At first sign of a commercial break everyone leans to the edge of their seat to absorb advertising’s best hooks. Ridiculous amounts of pizza, wings, hamburgers, dips and apps crowd coffee tables and induce mild comas. Each quarter, we fumble and figure out whether we won some strange “Squares” game that isn’t played any other time in the year. Quietly, a few people monitor bets that appear somewhat outside the scope of competition. (The aliens would be double-forgiven for wondering why your buddy slammed his fist when he saw the Gatorade was orange.) There is the overdone half-time show. And the beer. And so on. Such an affair.
If the aliens did a little research, they’d learn that we’re just starting to ease into the New Year of work, the relaxation of the holidays is fading into the rear view and this is our last chance before the Fourth of July to have a real, American blowout, this day where we don’t have to worry about anything except eating and watching football.
But, the aliens may wonder: “So, um, how about football—the game? How good is the actual Super Bowl?”
Right. Fair question. Your buddy working all the prop bets probably isn’t taking “yes” on “will the Super Bowl be exciting?” The stats advise against it, for sure.
Since the collective bargaining agreement in 1993, the average differential in the Super Bowl is—yawn—13 points, and if you take Belichick/Brady teams out of the picture, it’s 16. I mean…yikes. Sixteen points?
How many 16-point games have you watched all the way through when it didn’t involve your team? (Must be awake for it to count.) Throw in the extra TV timeouts with longer breaks, and I’m surprised we remember the previous year’s loser. (Yes, the Colts, but admit it took you a few seconds.)
Think of it this way: Since 1993, how many captivating moments from the Super Bowl can you recall, offhand, that didn’t involve your team?
Here’s my list, without e-cheating:
- James Harrison’s Pick-6.
- The Helmet Catch.
- Vinatieri I.
- Vinatieri II.
- Vinatieri III.
- Kevin Dyson a yard short.
I’m probably forgetting something, but most would be hard-pressed to think of many other instances where they came flying out of their chair. That’s what we get amped for, right? That’s why we watch—for that instant where, no matter the teams, we’re huddled around the television as the fate of America’s new champion is decided in a dramatic hurricane of blood and sweat.
Those six moments brought me to my feet—but other than that?
To recap: We drop a bunch of money on food and beer; we stress ourselves out with weird wagers; we worry about keeping our seat if we go to the bathroom; we… you know what? None of this matters. It’s still awesome.
Because, except that time your roommate’s girlfriend flipped out for no apparent reason (she wasn’t the center of attention), Super Bowl parties are a blast. You see buddies you haven’t caught up with in a long time, you tease friends and overeat without guilt, someone always gets too drunk, someone gets torched on an idiotic wager, the Random Guy wins Super Bowl Squares, you reconnect with one of the country’s cultural institutions…you just have a good time.
We’re given a reason to party; who cares if that reason is likely a snoozer. It’s an excuse to have fun. Nothing’s more American than that.
(Post-post note: With regards to Super Bowl moments, a friend reminded me of Elway's Helicopter. Just got goosebumps typing that. Can't believe that slipped my mind.)