Op-Ed: Watching the Super Bowl for the first time

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

OPINION: By Jenny Rollins
BU News Service 

Let’s get some things out of the way. I have absolutely no understanding of football, much to my family’s disappointment.

I spent some time growing up in Africa. I learned how to play rugby, which made me look at American football as a sport for pansies with pads on.

Some people have a problem with organized religion; I have a problem with organized sports. I get no pleasure from watching teams of strangers that get paid way too much run at each other until they get degenerative brain diseases.

Even if I like the sport, I would rather play it than watch it.

I have no teams. One time, I said I was a Seahawks fan, but that’s just because I have a city crush on Seattle, not because I know anything about football. I can’t name a single player on the Seahawks team.

My dad picks teams based on geography, I think. My mom picks teams based on which players have the least number of tattoos.

I usually pick who I cheer for based on the mascots. For instance, if literal cowboys were to face literal giants, they would probably get squished. It makes mascots like the Utah Jazz and the Green Bay Packers very difficult to cheer for.

The last time I tried to watch the Super Bowl all the way through, I accidentally fell asleep. This time, I napped in preparation.

I looked for any kind of sports-team gear that I could wear. The only thing that I could find was an Ireland Quidditch World Cup shirt. That should tell you how much I know about sports.

On Sunday, I went to my friend’s apartment for a Super Bowl party. Soon the couches were packed, extra chairs were added and about 14 bags of chips were placed on the table.

Here’s roughly what I knew before the Super Bowl:

  • Tom Brady is basically the Hercules of Boston whose team is the Patriots, better known as the “Pats,” which doesn’t sound nearly as fearsome as the fans think it does. It reminds me of a Sunday evening patting my dog while watching Boy Meets World reruns.
  • If you say Tom Brady’s name three times in the bathroom mirror, a sea of Patriots fans will break down your doors and tell you how great they are.
  • A quarterback is the one that catches the ball when it’s tossed between some man’s legs and then looks around frantically for someone to pass it to like it’s a game of hot potato.
  • There is a large amount of food at Super Bowl parties — the main reason I chose to go.
  • For some reason, people keep saying, “not done yet,” which is the same thing I grunt at the waiter when he tries to take my plate away.
  • People get concussions from football, which then limits their ability to make smart decisions, so they continue to play football and get more concussions.
  • Gronk is apparently a person, not that guy from the Emperor’s New Groove.

I began the night with my eyes glued to the TV, frantically trying to figure out which team was which. I then had to ask where they were playing. Then I quickly forgot because Minneapolis means nothing to me.

I still couldn’t tell where the ball was. I then realized that no one ever really knows where the ball is, which is why the commentators literally have to do a slow-motion replay and draw circles around the players on the field that touch the ball.

Someone explained that the Eagles had invented a new play called the “RPO,” which means that they don’t decide what they’re going to do until three seconds in. Someone else commented that it should’ve been called, “Schrodinger’s pass,” so I groaned, excused myself and ate six Oreos.

I came back and the Eagles got a touchdown. Some man with a very large beard and a headset looked mildly happy while Bradley Cooper freaked out in his personal box because apparently he’s the only celebrity who actually likes the Eagles.

“Is what’s his name playing?” asked one girl. “You know, the guy from the Dunkin Donuts commercial? … That was the most New England sentence I’ve ever said.” This led to a discussion about Gronk and how, according to my friend Sophie, his face looks like a moldy old potato.

I was much more interested in Peter Dinklage rapping in a burning room followed by Morgan Freeman rapping in an icy room than a man trying to jump entirely over another man and landing on his shoulders.

Soon my mind began to wander into existential crises. Why do people freak out about women being distracting in yoga pants, but football players get no flack for wearing white pants tighter than any leggings I’ve ever had? What do football players do during commercial breaks? How long do the water squirters have to train to shoot into the mouths of such tall humans?

Finally, Justin Timberlake tried to bring sexy back only to realize that he’s actually 37. He went through the crowd and stopped to take a selfie with a young man who quickly tried to look up exactly who Justin Timberlake is and which boy band he belonged to.

In JT’s defense, he looked like the best-dressed hobo I’ve ever seen. Then he brought up a hologram of Prince, causing angry Prince fans to break Twitter forever.

When the Patriots fell behind, my friends held onto the hope of last year’s comeback. There was a cool moment when someone jumped over two other people, grabbed the ball, and held onto it. A player named White got a touchdown only to have someone else completely miss the field goal.

The Eagles made a touchdown and the camera cut to Giselle chugging wine as daintily as she could in her pristine box.

When the Patriots lost possession with two minutes left, it was basically over. Although my friends generally weren’t pleased, I couldn’t help but feel happy for that one 99-year-old Eagles fan who finally got to live his dreams.

Near the end, one of my friends made the observation, “We’re going to finish the game, and they’re going to be like, this wasn’t a game; this was all a Tide commercial.”

Here’s my conclusion on all of it: I think we’re on the right track here. Large amounts of food. Family and friends getting together. Strange commercials. Musical performances. Now all that needs to happen is for football to just be removed entirely.

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.


  • Great experience. Football fans will like you but not your removing football entirely. Football is a reflection — why some team up with bad decisions. How can a sport breed so much health hazards and it’s like let’s getting it on. Hey, Super Bowl is around the corner and need to gather savings for a heck of a night. Keep your pen flagging great news Jenny Rollins.

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