I don’t have a lot of childhood recollections of the Superbowl. No big parties, no online betting or any kind of betting except for the ones where your Uncle’s Schmuck and Schmo got a bunch of guys to ‘play for drinks/otai/kava/vai melegi/kopai’, anything but actual cash.
When I was a kid the Superbowl was still a game played by guys who punched, kicked, scratched, clawed and gouged their way to the championship. They were guys who worked in automobile plants, on the farm, in a factory or some other blue-collar job during the day, and played the game they loved at night or on the weekends.
Back then, football was played by guys who became known as the Monsters of the Midway, the Doomsday Defense, the Fearsome Foursome, the Orange Crush, the Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain. Nicknames like “Iron” Mike Ditka, “Mean” Joe Green, William “The Fridge” Perry and Walter “Sweetness” Payton, were earned not self-appointed like “Ocho-Stinko” and “He Hate Me” (and for the record, I still Hate He).
The Superbowl didn’t have million dollar commercials, million dollar half-time shows, million dollar athletes and billionaire owners. They had rabid blue-collar fans, popcorn and peanuts in the stands and busted up athletes who played hard because they knew that their fans expected nothing less or you would get an earful from them during your walk of shame from the locker room to your car.
I don’t get into the game much and I confess, I never have. In part because the San Diego Chargers don’t give me much to cheer about beyond the regular season and also because I don’t like what its become. Wins are often lopsided, there’s more emphasis on individual story lines that no one really cares about and individual performances are more heralded than the team as a whole. Then there is the whole commercialism surrounding the event that often makes me feel like I’m being indoctrinated into some testosterone fueled, Doritos chomping, beer-chugging, womanizing cult. But that’s a story for another (ibuprofen induced coma) day.
What I do like about the game has nothing to do with football but it has become a byproduct of the game over the years. I love the social aspect of the game. I’ll go to Superbowl gatherings or host a party of my own just so that I can listen to the banter between fans of opposing teams. I’ll eat seven-layer dip and Frito’s simply to be an annoyance to the real fans watching the game. I’ll start talking about Pilates and Yoga in front of your 52-inch flat screen TV in the middle of a third-and-goal play with seconds left on the clock in a tied game.
I don’t want to mislead you. I love football and I love being a fan, but I also love just being a part of the atmosphere. But this bit of information has all but ensured that I’m not invited to Superbowl parties by my friends and family members. In the last ten years I’ve only been invited to two parties. In one case they didn’t mean to invite me but couldn’t retract the offer and in the other case they just had sympathy on me when I kept asking, “Where’s the party at?” in my best Valley Girl song and dance. In both cases, I became an instant pariah with the adults, but the kids sure loved me.
But I’ve changed. I promise. My days in “Superbowl Solitary Confinement” have taught me that its one thing to be a heckler, its something total different to be in the good graces of a Superbowl enthusiast. So if you’re organizing a shindig and have room for a reformed Superbowl uprooter, please give me a call, text, email, Facebook me, do something to get me there. I promise you won’t be disappointed…either way.