Super Bowl MADNESS…because everybody’s doing it

Yesterday morning, in the aftermath of Super Bowl celebrations, I rolled out of bed and experienced what was a mixture of a wings and pizza hangover, combined with dread and hesitation to turn on ESPN, as I customarily do every morning. Okay, so the food coma situation was totally my fault, but the anxiety to turn on the television totally wasn’t. The day after the Super Bowl, no, the week after the Super Bowl is seriously analysis overload. It is a week in which it seems like every analyst on every show dissects every snap, every big call, every questionable coaching move, and in the case of this season’s championship show-down, essentially every bounce of Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews’ luscious locks. We hear reports on what went wrong and what went right, and see highlight after highlight of the so-called “game-changing” moments, which is peculiar because call me crazy, but I wouldn’t necessarily deem Super Bowl XLV as a particularly exciting one. We are subjected to replay after replay, interview after interview, and something that always makes me chuckle, the in-depth segments on predictions for next season. Hmm, I wonder where Favre will end up!

It is early February. Action within the NBA (with the exception of the Cavs, of course) is heating up, and the Melo-drama continues to both intrigue and frustrate us. College basketball is ever-present on television, as fans such as myself anxiously await the real holiday season, March Madness. The NHL is also in full swing, as the Eastern conference is embedded in a battle for the top, with the Canucks still holding reign in the West. Did I forget to mention any major sport? Oh that’s right, I had to dig my car out from a foot of snow last week, but Spring Training is almost here, with pitchers and catchers starting in less than a week! Needless to say, one would be hard-pressed to catch a night without entertaining and competitive match-ups in any sport. So what’s with the lingering love affair with the NFL? Isn’t the season over?

To the obnoxious kid I saw walking on campus yesterday wearing a cheesehead, apparently it isn’t. To the 50,000 fans who packed Lambeau this afternoon for a “Return to Titletown” celebration, which sold out in a matter of hours, apparently it isn’t. To my friend, a Steelers fan who will remain nameless, who has only emerged from his room five times since Sunday, only to go to the bathroom, it definitely isn’t. Sunday’s Super Bowl was not just a game, it was the purest form of cultural tradition and affirmation of loyalties on display, with a whole bunch of food thrown into the mix.

Super Bowl Sunday, at its simplest definition, is a day to pig out and party. No matter if your team is playing or not, or whether you even like or understand football, chances are that you did something significant for the game. I was fortunate to have a taste of both the restaurant/bar experience, as well as the house party atmosphere, as I spent the pre-game, first half, and halftime show at a local bar and grill, and then jetted over to a friend’s house for the conclusion of the game. While out at the bar, I spent the majority of my time yelling to friends due to the raucous atmosphere, while dodging verbal and physical attacks between Packers and Steelers fans in my vicinity, and giving lots of high fives. (Side note: the high five is underrated. It is way more fun than a handshake, and is it extremely multi-purpose. I am going to help facilitate a comeback. It’ll kinda be like the 2004 Boston Red Sox, except with less facial hair.) People were yelling obscenities at complete strangers, over-indulging in food and drink, and heckling every aspect of the halftime show. Ah, America at its finest. When I went to my friend’s house for the latter half of the game, I was surrounded by close friends who I had watched football with virtually every Sunday of the regular season. We were casually throwing out insults to our friends who are Packers and Steelers fans, who were coincidentally watching the game on a separate television in the kitchen, and all paid pretty close attention to the commercials, which were definitely not a letdown, as per usual.

As I reflect on my two distinct experiences of the same game, I came to realize that although the atmospheres and noise levels were significantly different from bar to townhouse, it was the shared allegiance to the distinctively American experience of football that brought us all together. The Super Bowl is a cultural spectacle, and a lavish celebration of belonging. Competitive sports and the concept of fanhood embraces the skills and teamwork shown on the field of play, but also encompasses the sense of identity and loyalty that is attained through the process of becoming a fan, and establishing one of the most significant and longest-lasting “relationships” in one’s life. Football is America’s game, and that “relationship” is culminated in the grandest, most celebrated, nationwide block party on a Sunday night every February. So guy walking around with the cheesehead, strut your stuff. You deserve it.

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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