How to: Brits at the Super Bowl
Super Bowl Britain
As the Seahawks and the Broncos suit up and hit New Jersey, we’ve put together a handy guide for Brits hoping to get in on a bit of Super Bowl action…
The first rule of thumb, of course, is to ignore all of your better instincts. All of the things that usually piss you off about America (volume, flagrant disregard for global attitudes, bright colours, patriotism, shameless advertising, Pepsi) will be out in full, smack-you-in-the-face, force.
So, leave your cynicism at the door. For one night only, it’s the land of the free, the home of the brave, we’re all bleeding red, white and blue and preying to the God that is Carl’s Jr, no questions asked. Can’t handle that? Stick to the Six Nations and be off with you.
That said, here’s our crash course in Super Bowl etiquette…
One of the leading results to pop up in Google’s predictive search queries is “The Super Bowl is gay.” Forget that it relates to an unfathomably popular YouTube video by famous chubby kid Andy Milonakis for a second. The phrase might as well owe its search prevalence to the number of smug Brits who’ve labelled the NFL “like rugby with pads” – a derivative of their favourite sport, for pussies and children.
Don’t. Just don’t. Besides the fact that such comparisons are old news, pointless and tiresome, they’re also outwith the spirit of the evening. Accept that though there are many similarities (tries/touchdowns, backwards passing), they are two different games. So, if you want to avoid a lynching, or at least the eye-rolls, put “rugby” on your vocabulary subs bench for 24 hours.
P.s. The NFL ‘aint a pussy game neither. Remember when Martin Johnson, England World Cup winning captain and all round rugby hero, tried to make the move to the San Fran 49ers in 2001 and found himself neither big enough to be a lineman, nor athletic enough to cut it at the tight end?…Yeah…
A bit of banter and some general ribbing is totally acceptable. It’s a sport after all, and you’re likely to be in a room full of men. But it’s not a matter of religion. It’s more personal than that.
So, if there are going to be any actual Americans at your Super Bowl party, when it comes to the mud-slinging, remember this:
If you go too far, instead of inciting a fun bout of fisticuffs and general headbuttery, you’re more likely to offend someone deeply, to their core. They’ll probably never speak to you again. Marriages have broken up over less. Keep it to a superficial minimum.
This is a bizarre form of evolution. We might scoff at America’s traditional precepts – men play sport; women watch them from the sidelines dressed in nothing but their underwear, flash their gleaming white teeth and occasionally throw an orangey leg in the air.
But as time has gone on, two things have happened.
Firstly, cheerleading has matured into an extremely athletic sport of its own, with tosses and tumbles, catches, throws, flips and formations that I challenge any of you to try at home without breaking your neck. Secondly (perhaps subsequently?!) spectator interest in it has dramatically waned. They’re as good as wall hangings at the back of the stands. Go figure…
So, passing remark on the cheerleaders is out. That’s if the cameramen bother to even swing their way. They usually lose their coverage to the commercial breaks anyway.
It is a very British thing to stand in the rain, shivering your nuts off in a muddied old cagoul, glaring silently through the haze at a scene that is as grey as a dead fish. This is not the American way. The Super Bowl is about the football, sure, but it’s also a massive spectacle and is as much about the show, the celebrities, the fireworks, the confetti and the breaktime antics (except the cheerleaders), as it is anything else.
This has resulted in some amazing phenomena. One being the victory dance, or more recently, the pre-game dance. While the Brits, faced with decades of the haka, have managed to come up with no bigger response than a steely glare, still seeing dancing as a girly pursuit, some NFL stars have become as famous for their toe-tapping as they have for their touchdowns.
F. Scott Fitzgerald predicted the slow disintegration of American society thanks to conspicuous consumerism back in 1925 and for all intents and purposes, it looks like he might have been right. There is about as much hype about the television advertising that intersperse the game as there is about Russell Wilson – Seattle’s young quarterback and this year’s one to watch.
The primetime Superbowl slots make for some of the most hotly anticipated commercials in the world. But why, you may ask, are the Yanks getting so worked up over which supermodel Go Daddy will choose to pantomime this year, or whether Bud Light organising for you to meet Don Cheadle and a Llama in an elevator would be the best damn night of your life?!
Well, it’s this. While us Brits might have figured out the joy of humorous advertising as soon as television was invented, leading to a box full of gorillas playing drum solos, moonwalking shetland ponies and cats visiting shortsighted vets (there’s a theme here), for the Americans, this is their one moment to be actually, legitimately funny.
If you’ve visited the States, you’ll know that advertising is usually just a battering ram of information, clunked over the heads of drowsy, thick-skulled, knuckle draggers. Usual tactics involve repeating phone numbers a minimum of 234,005 times per ad, garish colours, monotone listings of side-effects and LOTS OF SHOUTING.
The high level of competition during the Super Bowl, plus the odds that a few more brain cells will be tuning in than usual (who might be relied upon to translate for the knuckle-draggers), means that the creative minds of the advertising community can have a field day. This is their moment to shine!
And then you get gems like this unusually dry-humoured Reebok Terry Tate commercial:
Or this imposing, Orwellian Apple Macintosh one:
And then there are the quick thinkers who do their bit for the viral community. Like Oreo during last year’s blackout:
They’re not famous for their quality brews. But you’re not going to get away with a glass of Rodenbach and you sure as hell aren’t going to live down sipping on chardonnay unless you want to end up hooked to the trellis down the back of the garden by your underwear.
If you can’t stomach the Bud Light, what about a San Diego Ballast Point Sculpin, if you fancy an IPA? Or Founders ‘Dirty Bastard”, from Michigan? Want more options, check out this GUIDE.
One of the best things about a hundred million tuning into the same cultural event is that you can all feel like you share the same private jokes for months afterwards. It’s hugely unifying. Just make sure you’ve caught on to the right meme… Sharing a thousand pictures of Beyoncé pulling funny faces in the half time show isn’t going to earn you much respect from die hard NFL fans.
That isn’t to say footballers don’t have a sense of humour though.
Need proof? See below:
Want to get involved but know as much about the NFL as you do about fly fishing? Here are a couple of banter nuggets you can throw in to make it sound like you’ve got the game sussed..
1. The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are the top two teams, with the best records, playing against each other. That might sound like a given. It’s not. Usually, one will get upset by another on the way to the big game. But not this year, which makes it pretty f***ing exciting.
2. The Broncos have the best offense, led by star quarterback Peyton Manning.
3. Just over a year ago, Manning was released by his old team, The Colts, due to severe injury. He then had surgery to fix nerve damage to his neck. No one thought he would play again… Everyone loves a comeback story!
4. On the other hand though, the Seahawks have the best defense in the league.
5. They also have rising young talent, quarterback Russell Wilson, on their side. He’s been having a bit of a slump, but if he can pick it back up, he could be Seattle’s MVP once again.
6. Seattle’s offense is often questionable, but if they can stop Manning from being effective, they might just clinch it.
7. It’s a toss up. That’s what makes this year especially electrifying.
Extra points: As we Brits LOVE to pass remark on the weather… It is sometimes said that Manning has trouble in the cold and New Jersey is looking pretty chilly this time of year…
So, there you go folks. Microwave that Ro-Tel dip, pick up some pork sliders and practice your victory dance.