That's right, once again, the Super Bowl is upon us. And I'm stuck in Europe...
The Super Bowl keeps getting later and longer. Doesn't the NFL care about the tiny population of non-ad-targeted fans in Europe?
— Cory Hanson (@HansonCory1) February 1, 2015
The game won't kick off until almost midnight local time, and will last AT LEAST an hour longer than a normal (already long) NFL game. It's gonna be a late night, but I'm dedicated to enjoying this one little bit of my American heritage to the last.
It really is impossible to compare Super Bowl Sunday to anything here in Ireland. Hurling and Gaelic football finals are great, to be sure. Rugby Six Nations championship? Exciting and thrilling of course, but the preamble and postgame is a bit deflating. World Cup? Yeah, it's big -- especially if your team is hanging in to the late stage of the tourney -- bit it's much less of a spectacle. That's right, I said it.
The Super Bowl is a big piñata-pop of all things American, the culmination of an entire autumn and winter of football fandom. Every high school season is long in the books, the college football bowl season has passed, and all American sporting eyes turn to the all-day coverage of the Greatest Game of the Year.
It falls at the perfect time. After the NFL season, America enters a sporting doldrums. Football is over, the baseball season is still months away, and sports networks struggle to find interesting (non-NASCAR) programming on weekends.
But.. Basketball! And ice hockey!
I know, basketball is still in full swing, and the college hoops season is really amping up as the conference standings fall into place in the buildup to the conference tourneys and the ever-loved March Madness championship tournament. The NBA is... the NBA. Professional basketball, a few nights a week. Those games that are always playing on mute at the local bar, with scores running into the triple digits and celebrities sitting courtside for their obligatory out-and-about shots. Compared to football? Yawn.
Ice hockey, enjoyed by a small but incredibly passionate fanbase, still occupies a second-class spot in the pro sports world. Just like the NBA, it suffers from a too-long season and bad television deals (outside of the home markets) and gets relegated to game-on-mute-at-the-one-bar-owned-by-that-guy-from-North-Dakota.
No friends, the Super Bowl is the LAST big game of 2014 -- even though it takes place a month into 2015. Like the traditional Chinese or the fiscal year, sports function by their own calendar not set down by the Romans (and later refined by monks) all those years ago. And much like the Western New Year celebration, Super Bowl Sunday is a big party held in the middle of winter, and the following day we wake up hungover, jaded, and looking ahead into a void of cold nothingness.
So enjoy, friends! However you celebrate (if you celebrate), do so safely and with as much America in your heart as you can fit. America is pretty big, much bigger than any human heart -- use caution. Even if you don't care one lick about that start-and-stop game where all the fat guys give each other head trauma, get yourself a watery American light lager, plug your nose, and release your inner North Dakotan. Get on YouTube tomorrow and watch as much of the halftime show as you can stomach, especially if there is a wardrobe malfunction -- but not if it happens to Steven Tyler.
And while you're watching the game, know that I will be sitting on an uncomfortable couch in our cold apartment in the middle of the night, full of nachos, quietly celebrating every sports fan's favorite holiday right there with you. God bless you, God bless football, and God bless America!