I can’t keep pretending anymore. After dozens of close calls, winged conversations with friends and memorizing one or two obscure statistics to keep up my facade, I’m calling it quits. Fortunately, I hid all my man cards somewhere safe (totally not under my mattress or anything), so I’m not afraid to come out and say it: I’m not a “sports guy.”
Admittedly, that’s not entirely true. I like hockey, and the FIFA World Cup is one of the most exciting events ever, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t watch SportsCenter, I don’t understand most penalties, and before this week I had never heard of Colin Kaepernick (spelling that is still a challenge; I just Googled him). It’s embarrassing, I know, but I’ve just never been that person.
Maybe I’m in part a product of my environment. Growing up in South Florida, by the time I was old enough to understand sports, my city provided me with one good baseball season, two decent hockey seasons and the recently soon-to-be-legendary Miami Heat. Otherwise, sports success seemed to skip past my city.
I tell you this so you understand where I’m coming from when I say that I just don’t understand some sports things.
I figure now is a fitting time to tell you that among those is — gasp! — the Super Bowl. Or, to be clear, the massive emotional investment people put into whomever is playing. Let me ask you, wonderful reader, where are you from? If your answer is anywhere within 100 miles of San Francisco or Baltimore, you can stop reading. Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it. Otherwise, I have a follow-up: Who did you root for? Why?
Maybe I’m weird (actually, I certainly am), but I couldn’t care less who won. In two years, I’ll be able to bet on everything Super Bowl, from the point spread to Beyonce’s hairstyle. And God knows when that happens I’ll be as caught up in my vices as Lindsay Lohan or Tyrone Biggums. But, until then, I’m unmoved.
I watch the Super Bowl. I watch it just about every year, and I love it. But not for the game.
The Super Bowl for me, and many others of us too ashamed to admit it, is a great evening marked by pizza, wings, bets and commercials, all of which are occasionally interrupted by a random football drive. It’s an evening of watching friends with higher tolerances for pain than myself cower when it’s time to collect on slap bets they’ve lost, an evening of watching a Best Buy employee live out my dream of shopping with Amy Poehler. But I may as well be watching a televised pick-up game, because that’s all it ever is to me. A bunch of people who I’ve never heard of before — and will forget about shortly after — playing a sport that I’ve “played” ever since P.E. became a middle school requirement. And somehow I’m supposed to care, because every year it seems like I’m the only person who doesn’t. I’m tired of being the different person — the different person never gets invited to the good parties.
So today I say, enough is enough. Friends, acquaintances, people I’ve seen regularly walking to class but don’t know well enough to say hi to, join me. Let’s stop pretending the outcome of this game means anything to us. Let’s stop pretending the commercials are somehow only the second-most important thing on TV.
The Super Bowl is a monumental event, reaching more than 100 million viewers. San Francisco and Baltimore hold a combined 1.5 million people. We’re not alone in this — more than 98 million people are faking enthusiasm, just like us.
Please, don’t misinterpret this as me knocking the Super Bowl. The event is as American as apple pie, illegal fireworks and political scandals. It’s one of few events that bring so many people from around the nation so closely together. But next year, let’s stop pretending the importance lies in the game being played — unless the Dolphins stage a miraculous comeback. Anything’s possible, right?