Why we watch the Super Bowl
By

    THE BIG SMALL SCREEN

    By Hillary Hubley

    Seven of us are squeezed into a couch made for three. We’re in a dorm room’s student lounge with about 20 other students, watching the 2012 Super Bowl. We’re stuffing our faces with junk food, eyes glued to the screen. We’re chatting, laughing, cheering together.

    I’m what my friends like to call a fair weather fan. I don’t watch football and didn’t even know my team – the New York Giants – had a shot at the Super Bowl title until the playoffs. I honestly don’t think I would have even watched if the Giants hadn’t made it, but my Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be a high point in my collegiate career. It was an incredible bonding experience: 20 plus students with little in common gathered around a TV. In the world of Hulu and Netflix, television becomes independent. I am the one with the remote. I’m probably an extreme case, but the Super Bowl was the only time I watched something on a big screen TV my freshman year.

    While there is something to be said for streaming on a laptop, my experience watching the Super Bowl exemplified the beauty of the small screen. There’s something about gathering together – us single-minded, frenzied college students – that’s blissful and romantic. During the eye of the winter quarter storm, we all put our lives on pause, get together and partake in an American tradition.

    DADDY'S GIRL

    By Neha Reddy

    The unveiling of new commercials, Beyoncé, the tradition of the big game – we all had our own reasons for tuning in to watch the Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday afternoon. Every year, millions of Americans gather with friends or family to enjoy the biggest day of “America’s favorite pastime” with the debut of never-before-seen commercials and star-studded halftime shows, an event that has become about so much more than just the sport of football.

    For me, watching the big game every year isn’t just about the funny commercials, the appeal of seeing artists like Beyoncé perform live or even football itself. Watching the Super Bowl has always been about the camaraderie, the chance to sit down with my dad and his friends to eat snacks, participate in bets and be a bro.

    I have always had a natural inclination for sports, and I grew up watching NBA games with my dad on weekday school nights. I couldn’t think of any better way to enjoy the biggest sporting events of the year than with my favorite sports companion, someone with whom I can get fired up and let my competitive side out, one that is often stifled by being a teenage girl.

    This year, I was away from home during the Super Bowl for the first time. It definitely felt strange to cheer on the 49ers with Northwestern students instead of my dad and his friends. But my dad and I will have our normal post-game debrief, when we undoubtedly call out the refs and overanalyze the final plays, a conversation that will have to take place over the phone instead of in person, but that is sure to take place with its usual enthusiasm and passion, nonetheless.

    IT'S NO WORLD CUP

    By Dana Driskill

    I belong to a sports minority in the U.S., one that prefers the FIFA World Cup over the Super Bowl. To me, the fun I associate with the Super Bowl is completely independent from the game itself. I enjoy the company I’m with and the funny commercials and the halftime show the most. I couldn’t care less about the teams that are playing or who ultimately wins, even if it’s a team that I love. And I think there’s something a little odd about that, that I care more about the experience outside of the game rather than the game itself.

    But the World Cup is about both the communal experience of watching and the action during the games. Not only does it bring together people from literally all over the world to watch, while the Super Bowl is exclusive to America, but what occurs during the games and the results of the tournament are the main talk of the event. People say “did you see the goal by Messi?” “Can you believe that French player got a red card and thrown out of the game?” “Isn’t it a shame the U.S. lost in PKs against Japan?” I don’t hear about how funny the Allstate commercial was or that the halftime show was lackluster. I call my grandma, ecstatic to see that her home teams, Mexico and Spain, have won and are advancing to the knockout round, and am touched by how overjoyed she sounds.

    To me, that’s what a sports game should be about: the happiness of your team finally winning after years of ups and downs. The Super Bowl has become too entangled within the commercialism and hype that surround the day. It's lost sight of what’s important: the actual game of football. I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, but it was more about the friends I was with than who wo. I laughed at the commercials, talked over the actual game and danced when Beyoncé took the stage. And for now, that’s enough.

    OVERRATED

    By An Phung

    Some called me un-American. Some, blasphemous. But others generally did not care. To be fair, I didn’t either. When Super Bowl season rolls around, I live in a state of blissful ignorance to the raging testosterone and fandom that sprouts up for however long the Super Bowl takes.

    Evaluating my sports-viewing career revealed that I perhaps have not seen a single Super Bowl game, ever. Not even for the commercials. Not even for the parties that seek to bring together the indifferent and the fanatical for a night of football themed food and alcohol. If anything, the overexcitement that surrounds the Super Bowl makes me want to watch it even less.

    Though my actions might reflect that of a bitter football non-fan, my petition against the Super Bowl is rooted more practically than that. Football games are long – like, really long. It just makes more sense to spend those few hours doing something enjoyable like sleeping or eating than blowing them away for a game where the scores will be plastered across every publication the next day. And plastered across Youtube – Super Bowl commercials. Bam. The Super Bowl experience courtesy of Youtube and news outlets, all in a matter of minutes.

    COMMERCIALS OR BUST

    By Varsha Venkatakrishna

    The Super Bowl is much like a bunch of overexcited apes watching a boulder roll down a hill; there’s a lot of yelling, meaningless injuries and really no point to the whole ordeal. But beyond all reason, like primates, the entirety of America still huddles around TVs for the Super Bowl. They invest in chanting, feasting and painting faces in hopes that good luck will favor their favorite team. (On second thought, the Super Bowl seems much more like a satanic ritual than a group of apes.)

    As you may have guessed, I dislike football. I have never found the idea of watching men in tight spandex wrestle for a misshapen ball particularly interesting, though I have found great pleasure in something else that glues me to the TV each year – the commercials.

    Ah yes, the $150,000 per second Super Bowl commercials, possibly the only time where I actually switch channels during the broadcasted show instead of the commercials that follow. But hey, if you don’t laugh at least once during the acclaimed Doritos, M&M's and Volkswagen commercials, I’m sorry to say that you really don’t have a sense of humor. Either that, or your team is losing badly.

    But since I have no team to root for – I honestly don’t even know who’s playing this year – I’m betting on the commercials to boost my spirits during my first wave of midterms.

    So yes, more than the game itself, I love the Super Bowl commercials. And if you see me at CVS hoarding Doritos and M&M's, or at a car dealership signing for a shiny new Beetle convertible, you’ll know they’ve worked.

    DIP INTO AMERICAN TRADITION

    By Sophia Rafiqi

    Dips of all varieties start to accumulate about a week early in my family’s kitchen. My Pakistani stepmother, still acclimating to the U.S., is overjoyed by all the opportunities for exploration that a foreign world of unknown gooey substances provides. Food is her thing, her way to understand and become involved with American trends and traditions. Tell her about anything – Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or even the Superbowl – and she’ll ask anxiously “Yes, but what do they eat?”

    An uncle in the corner is eating spinach artichoke with a spoon, and my grandmother, despite her best efforts, is scooping up her salsa with saltines. I reach for a few pita chips and some hummus. “No no no!” my stepmother interjects. “Try those thick chips with some of this!” she says, smiling happily as she hands me a bowl of daal. No hesitation as I grab a chip, dip away and chew contently. “You’re right,” I say. “Best dip ever!”

    Lost amongst all this, of course, is the football. I’ve watched the Super Bowl in a very resigned sort of way every year since I can remember, but found myself unnervingly excited to make the 40 minute trip home to the suburbs to watch it this year. My father, who has always found football a bit violent, sent me two e-mails and one text about coming home this weekend. It would seem my family is officially a Super Bowl party family, and while the dips are delicious, I can’t give them all the credit.

    Carving out our own unique piece of that uniquely American Sunday is exciting in a way that makes us interested in what would otherwise be just another game. Families of immigrants around the country are having their own versions of dip parades on Sunday, and I couldn’t be more excited for them. Taking ownership of a classic American tradition in our own way was a big milestone for my family, whether or not we knew it at the time. This year, we invited our American neighbors and they decided to bring bean dip. Why? “It tastes just like that daal stuff you had me try last week – you’ll love it!”

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