​Opinion: My first football game was so dull it made history

Hundreds gathered in the Boston University George Sherman Union Metcalf Ballroom to enjoy snacks and beverages while watching the 2019 Super Bowl., Feb. 3, 2019. (Photo By Kenneth Yotsukura/BU News Sevice)

By Naa Dedei Coleman
BU News Service

Anywhere else on the planet, I do not need an introduction to football. However, in America, it is an entirely different sport and has belittled what I know as football to the term “soccer.” The game I know has all positions working together on the field at the same time, but American football only has either a team’s offense or defense on the field at a time. On behalf of everyone from every other side of the world, thank you for making this game confusing for us.

If there’s anything I have learned about Boston in the last few months, it’s that this city takes its sports very seriously. The Red Sox World Series victory in October seemed to make this championship game that much more critical. Boston was facing Los Angeles once again, except this time in a different sport.

I knew next to nothing about football before this game. I still could not tell you the basics even if you held a gun to my head. I have only been interested in the halftime shows over the years, and none of it live. However, when you move to a city that has played the championship game for three years straight, you have no choice but to get sucked into the feeling. It was as though being home and watching Netflix would make you a grinch.

The thought of watching a game for more than three hours was very daunting, especially when I barely understood what was going on in the first place. My attention span does not last three hours, and honestly, I don’t think there’s anyone whose attention stays with one thing for so long. I want to go back to Sunday morning and warn myself that the game does not last three hours. In fact, in this game lies the power to stretch five minutes into what feels like triple that.

I watched the game at Beantown Pub, where there were so many screens that I could see what was happening in every direction. Fans sported their Patriots gear, except one guy from Melbourne who wore a Rams jersey because he wanted to be different. I showed up lacking in any sports outfit, ready to take on the challenge. Arya Stark would have been proud.

Let’s do the math; sports, alcohol, bar food and the other element that seems to show up when emotions are high, foul language. Yes, if the bar were being filmed, it would be in a PG-13 movie.

I want to say “thank you” to the one guy who slammed into my chair after downing too many beers. Not forgetting the other one who could not let 10 minutes go by without screaming out an expletive. You made my viewing experience highly uncomfortable and reminded me of why I generally avoid bars.

I knew the basic rules before the game since I had asked everyone I know about them. I want to thank those people for the videos and texts; they were much appreciated, although I needed extra tutelage.

It started great, with Grammy-nominated musicians Chloe and Halle from “Grown-ish” singing “America the Beautiful” in shiny, matching outfits, and Gladys Knight giving a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

The only person I knew on the field was Tom Brady; that’s mainly because he’s Tom Brady, and despite being clueless about the sport, I had seen him in multiple interviews. His age and reluctance to retire give him the notoriety he deserves for staying in a position, that from game statistics, he’s clearly good at.

The Super Bowl itself was so dull I want to cry just thinking about it.

It was bad enough I had to spend three hours in a bar of people, slowly drinking their weight in beer, but there were so few points scored that it made history.

With each down that passed, I was hoping the pace would pick up, and fortunately, it did, right before the game came to an end. I spent most of the fourth quarter praying that somebody, anybody would score before the end so the game would not go into overtime.

My joy at that touchdown equaled the rest of the bar for similar but still different reasons. They were happy the Pats were ahead, but I was just glad I wouldn’t have to sit there any longer pretending to watch football.

I lost interest in the game so many times I lost count. The only thing that kept drawing my attention back from the book I was reading on my Kindle app was the ads. I counted five rappers I recognized in the ads. Chance the Rapper brought a smile to my face with his attempt to keep up with the Backstreet Boys, and 2 Chainz’s appearance had me struggling to remember his name for three-quarters of the ad. Imagine my excitement when I finally placed the face. That got me through two minutes of the game itself.

The bar crowd’s reactions also drew my attention to the game from time to time. These included joyful shouts when the Rams were forced to turn over and groans when the Patriots did not make a down.

My favorite part of the game was the halftime show, not just because of Maroon 5, but also because it took some of the tension away from the low-scoring game. Adam Levine sang his heart out without his shirt on, and Travis Scott disappointed with a short set that was preceded by a highly-anticipated “Spongebob Squarepants” cameo. Big Boi also made an appearance as short as Scott’s, made only memorable by his fur coat.

The slow pace of the third quarter forced me to think about why this game was so crucial for both the Patriots and their fans. The Patriots played in the last three Super Bowls, but last year’s loss to the Eagles probably meant that the team craved redemption.

While watching the game against the Rams, there seemed to be no memory of last year’s loss. Instead, the competition fueled fans to root for a win.

The Rams made this win a difficult one for the Patriots, and for me, that makes the victory more meaningful. The tense moments, the long game and the never-ending tie made the celebration even sweeter. Until the end, I wasn’t entirely sure that the trophy was coming back to Boston.

My thoughts on American football haven’t changed too much since Sunday. It’ still a game that makes me wonder how people can watch each week for hours. I mean, I get that it’s an excuse to meet up with your friends and share food and booze, but to pay attention to each minute of a game must be a superpower I have yet to tap into.

Although American football is vastly different from what the rest of the world categorizes as football (soccer), the emotions that fans put into both games are equally compelling. It’s incredible to see that Boston celebrates in the same way I have seen people celebrate in the streets of Accra. The joy in their faces shows why sports are important. They take us away from our problems, bringing people together from different backgrounds.

The victory parade and overall positive energy of yesterday more than made up for the lack of excitement from the game itself. It was so great to see the number of people who take the team and sport so seriously that they’d not only sit through that game but spend two hours in traffic coming into the city to celebrate.

There was just as much drinking as there was gaiety, with a little splash of bad ideas, including the one that had people jumping and sliding across the frozen pond in the Boston Public Garden in 50-degree weather.

My day was only marred by the guy on the float who decided to spray beer on the audience and got drops of it on my camera lens. However, with the amount of confetti in the air, there was no way my mood could stay down for too long.

All I can say is that if Boston is going to keep hosting parades like this, the Patriots are welcome to win as many Super Bowls as they please, so long as their victory is not dependent on my watching. I will be returning to my usual process of watching the half time shows the morning after the game, after a good night’s rest.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Boston University News Service.

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