Every year, the Super Bowl attracts a large audience, and many of those watching are not football fans. Some are interested in the commercials, while others prefer the halftime show, which amounts to a free (albeit brief) televised concert. A select few are even interested in the game itself and want to see the two best competitors in this NFL season go head-to-head.
As someone not interested in football but intrigued by the Super Bowl phenomenon nonetheless, I’ve been to a fair share of Super Bowl parties and experienced a number of awkward situations which might have been avoided with a little more knowledge on the subject. If you don’t live and breathe football, there are a few things every student should know before the biggest game of the season this Sunday.
- The U.S. National Anthem is a difficult song
You might have heard the U.S. National Anthem being sang at other sporting events and thought that someone else might have been a better choice to sing. Although I can’t speak for how singers are chosen, it’s important to recognize that it is actually a difficult song to sing even before they are pushed in front of a microphone in the middle of a packed stadium and being broadcasted around the world. There have been historically criticized performances, and people have even pre-recorded and lipsynched. If you’re watching for enjoyment, don’t start off your experience disappointed if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.
- Roman numerals
2015 is the year of Super Bowl XLIX. This does not stand for “Super Bowl Extra Large Nine,” but actually Super Bowl 49. Give yourself a crash course in Roman numerals and impress your friends with technical knowledge appropriate to the occasion. If they don’t think it’s relevant, point to the screen and say “tell them that.” Afterwards, help someone wrap their head around the fact that the next Super Bowl will be Super Bowl L.
- Which teams are playing
At any Super Bowl gathering, one of the questions most asked by non-fans is “Who is playing?” It’s a fair question from someone who doesn’t pay attention to the sport, but it tends to annoy people who are asked a dozen times throughout the night as people filter in and out of the party. At the very least, anyone watching should know the names of the teams playing and where they are from. In this case it is the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. To save you some time, they are on the opposite ends of the US map. If you want to root for a team, ask the fans at the party who they think deserves to win, or root for whoever the person you want to stay friends with roots for.
- Why the Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) matters
This might be grounds for interesting debate among science-savvy audience members. Some fans might be concerned with the PSI of the balls used at the Super Bowl following a controversy in the Patriots’ last game involving their use of under-inflated balls. Much of the debate is focused on whether the balls used were intentionally under-inflated to give the Patriots an advantage. Some people are concerned with whether a ball inflated under the regulated PSI range of 12.5 to 13.5 would even give an advantage. Supposedly they are easier to grip and fly differently than regularly inflated balls. If you know nothing else about football, perhaps you can impress your friends with your knowledge of ball physics.
- You don’t have to choose between studying and watching
I wouldn’t advise putting your essay or studying off until after the superbowl. Turn your homework or study sessions into entertainment, complete with commercial breaks. You can work through the game coverage, then watch commercials while you wait to resume your work. Just try not to let your consumerism be reflected too much in your writing.
- The rules
There are too many to mention here, but the rules of football and their enforcement are the source of a lot of disappointment for people who watch the game. Viewers will scream at the sound of penalty calls they think are unfair. This is where people can put their analysis skills to test. If you understand the rules and look at the replay footage, you can determine for yourself (and possibly for your friends) whether a penalty was unfair or not.
- Who will win
My statistics teacher in high school told the class about the power of statistics using sporting events as an example. He said that based on data, you could predict accurately how many fights would break out in a game and at what point the concessions would be busiest. Supposedly, a simulation in Madden video games has correctly predicted the outcome of multiple Super Bowls. If you have experience in statistics, perhaps you could use the available data to predict the winner of Super Bowl XLIX and which team will see a huge spike in t-shirt sales after the game.
- It’s a touchdown, not a homerun
I’ll end with a reminder of the stereotypical mistake. I know it might seem ridiculous, but in the heat of the moment when excitement is high, or when you’re speaking casually and not entirely invested, it’s easy to accidentally let the wrong name slip. You don’t want to be caught on the wrong end of this mistake; when in doubt, use neither.
Since the game is happening around midterm season, you might be concerned with what it does to your Sunday study schedule. But perhaps it would be nice to take a break from work and enjoy some entertainment. If you are so inclined, I hope this helps.
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