It’s here. The biggest weekend of the NFL season is upon us and it could not have gotten here sooner. I know that sounds like hyperbole but just think, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t seen competitive football in almost two weeks. And with the Big Game, comes even bigger events, like your local Super Bowl party. All your friends and family gather around the TV to eat finger foods and talk football. Even the casual sports fan becomes a Football Fanatic that day. But what happens if you don’t know the difference between a “Cover 2” and “going for 2”? How do you not stick out like a sore thumb? Have no fear, with my tips and tricks to help any football amateur be a Super Bowl Party pro.
1.) Don’t Be Controversial – whether you are right or wrong, the quickest way to be a wet blanket at the party is by saying something that riles people up in the wrong way. Saying that “with a win tonight, we’ll have to put Eli in the conversation of greatest of all time” may win over the crowd at a pro-Giants party, still, its authenticity can be debated. Instead, try something that’s rooted in fact like “I can’t believe with a Pats win, Belichick will have as many rings as Chuck Knoll”. Try to use quantitative arguments and not just opinions.
Do Be Conversational – “I wonder what the NFL would look like right now if the Chargers and Giants hadn’t swapped picks in 2004.” It’s the old adage ‘stand out by blending in’. You propose a question/statement and let others debate it. You didn’t try to force an opinion on others, but at the same time you seem knowledgeable about the subject. It’s win-win.
2.) Don’t Be Obvious – everyone knows that this game is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII (sidenote: the first way to come across as a football novice is not knowing Roman numerals), and if they don’t they will by the first snap of the game. Saying something blatantly apparent is a common party foul that will not go unnoticed. You might as well say at the start of the fourth quarter that “touchdowns are worth 6 points” or “Tom Brady is married to Giselle”. So before making a football comment, ask yourself “would Joe Buck say this on TV” and if the answer is yes, than everybody at your party already knows the information.
Do Be Humorous – football is a very intense game, and watching football can be just as serious. So don’t be afraid to lighten things up with a ‘seemingly improvised’ quip about the game. But try to keep it about the game. People will suspect you’re a ‘fan for a day’ if your jokes are all about the last Coke commercial or Bon Jovi sitting in the owner’s box. And don’t over-do it, as simplicity is the key to game day comedy. It may be topical to say “They were going to have Ed Hocculi referee tonight, but he is still explaining the overtime rules from the championship game”, but a quick “Can Danny Woodhead legally sit in the front seat of a car?” is more accessible, and thus, has more comic mileage. Plus, it will show that you know more players than just Tom Brady.
3.) Don’t Be A Show Off – believe me, the person who knows how many game winning drives Eli Manning had in 2007 is about as wanted at the party as the person who doesn’t know who the Patriots quarterback is (for the record, the former is 6). Nobody likes a know-it-all. A good rule is that the harder it is for you to find the fact, the less impressive it will be for you to know it. We are all mildly impressed when the announcer says “no team has come back from this big a deficit in the history of the Super Bowl”, but if you boastfully know that information off the top of your head, chances are you won’t be invited back the following year.
Do Be Able to Back up Your Claim – as I said before, nobody likes it when someone else knows more than them. So it will only be natural for someone to question what you say, especially if historically you’ve never shown any inkling of enthusiasm for the pig skin (also unless you watched Lombardi beat Landry, don’t call it that). So try to find facts very similar to each other to strengthen your claim. If you plan on saying “Everybody makes a big deal about Brady and the Patriots offense, but Eli was only 300 passing yards behind him” well than be prepared for someone’s rebuttal by keeping “…yeah but both Welker and Cruz had 99 yard touchdowns this season” in your back pocket. But don’t let it go much further than that for fear of being exposed. A simple “maybe” is the ‘agree to disagree” of football arguments. On that note, never say anything along the lines of “eh, just my opinion, maybe I’m biased”. No real football fan would ever admit they are biased. It’s okay to be wrong, just never be in doubt.
4.) Don’t Be Wrong- this is the most important rule of the party. If your goal is to be a good party guest that seems to have a moderate amount of interest in the game, than saying something that is incorrect is admitting you are lying. The easiest way to enjoy the game is the KISS principle of keeping it simple (named such because the legendary rock band was known for their uncomplicated, “single entendre” storytelling). Lightly straddle the line between amateur fan and professional fan and you should have a great time. And the easiest way to do that is…
Do Your Research – like most things in life, you will only get out what you put in. The Giants and Patriots didn’t get to the Super Bowl over night, and you will not be able to master your Super Bowl party skills at the last minute. Study hard, but not too hard it is after all just a game.
So there you have it: party etiquette that even Emily Post would be proud of. But I can only lead a horse to water; it’s up to you to finish the rest. One last suggestion, read our archived Blog posts to learn some of the best facts and analysis out there, and you should be fine. Or if you only have an hour, make sure to watch Road to the Super Bowl, premiering this Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5th at 1pm/ET on NBC. There’s no more entertaining way for the novice football fan to transform into an expert on the 2011 season.