Super Bowl Sunday: The day the entire country stops doing anything


This upcoming Sunday features an event that means absolutely nothing to people outside the United States: The Super Bowl. I call it an event because it is more than simply a football game. It's an American institution. Even people who think a nose guard is a piece of safety equipment will watch the game, or at least pretend to be interested in it for a few hours.

At a party last year, I met someone who spent time as an emergency room doctor, and he told me that the entire hospital goes quiet when the Super Bowl is on. Patients don't come in. Inpatients don't call for nurses. Those who are already in the waiting room are transfixed by the television set. It's like a national hypnosis has taken over.

A few months ago, I met someone who works in a hospital as a mental health specialist and asked her whether the Super Bowl had the same sedative effect on her patients. "Nope. These people are oblivious to the Super Bowl."

Perhaps they were French.

(Note: I won't be able to use this joke for much longer.)

Comments (23)
  1. Mitch Tenderson says:

    The problem with the Super Bowl in Europe is that it’s on at about 3AM. It’s hard to make watching such a broadcast into a family tradition.

  2. Rosyna says:

    it’s not about the game (at least for me), it’s about the wonderful commercials. Although it does piss me off that both SciFi and Adult Swim aren’t showing any new episodes of anything. Here I was looking forward to a new Moral Orel. I guess a family guy marathon will work.

  3. ac says:

    The problem in Europe is not that its on in the middle of the night, its that we dont get the fancy expensive commercials ;)

  4. Nathan says:

    Thanks for not re-broadcasting the urban legend tripe about wife-beatings going up during the super bowl.

  5. jeffdav says:

    Mitch- Now you know how we feel about that world cup thing. :)

    I have to admit to being a casual sports fan.  I watch baseball when the Cardinals are in the play-offs.  I only watch football when the play-offs come around, since everything before that doesn’t seem to matter much anyway.

    Ever since college I have been a Colt’s fan because one of my drinking buddies was such a passionate Colts fan that I couldn’t help but believe that the Almighty put Payton Manning on Earth for the sole purpose of leading them to the super-bowl.  

    So, for a Cardinals/Colts fan, its shaping up to be a good sports-year.  Or it could end in massive disappointment if Payton chokes after seven years of post-season heartbreak.  

    So, yeah, I’ll be watching the game.  Don’t know where yet though.  I’m accepting invitations.  

  6. Cody says:

    American football is the only sport I could ever be a spector for and even then usually only the Superbowl.

    For me, it’s because football to me looks like a turn-based strategy game, really.  Each side sets up a play, says go, fights for 10 yards then does it again.  It’s like a mini-wargame in my mind and I like that aspect of it.

  7. William C Bonner says:

    The link you sent for NFL.Com expanding into Europe was over a year old.  

    Of course the NFL is claiming that nearly a billion people will watch this year..  http://www.nfl.com/international

  8. Bob says:

    William:  No, the NFL is claiming that a billion will "be able" to see the game, not will actually watch it.

    Though I do agree its a weird thing to say; billions of people could have seen Ishtar at some time or another.

  9. Mike S says:

    At the SuperBowl parties I go to, we mostly watch the commercials. Most of the people play games, and the few that watch the game yell out "Commercial" when they’re about to start.

  10. Matt says:

    I won’t be watching. I think that watching sports is a complete waste of time. Particpating in sports is certainly worthwhile. But I have better things to do with my time than to sit around and watch a bunch of overpaid guys hitting each other. Just think about how much time I’ve saved over the past 20 years by not watching NFL, NBA, NHL, and NL/AL games. Heck, I don’t even know the names of the teams anymore!

    It boggles my mind when I think about how much time the average guy spends glued in front of a television watching sports. And for what?

    So take it from a guy how hasn’t watched a superbowl in 20 years. Not EVERYONE will be watching!

  11. Nathan says:

    Thank you Matt for sharing your cultural superiority over us non-advanced men. Take pride that in your smug and superior attitude you have managed to slight the Neanderthals around you. Maybe you hope they’re too dumb to notice, because real smart men like yourself don’t watch sports.

    It’s called leisure time for a reason. Should I mock folks who play star (wars|trek) dress up ? Well, yes, but it is their way of spending their leisure time.

  12. Mihai says:

    <<The problem in Europe>> is that Europeans don’t care about American football :-)

    As an European living in the US, Bowl Sunday is the best week-end to hit the slopes (almost empty :-)

  13. Pete B says:

    Pfft, I live in the UK and have taken the day off work especially so I can cheer on the Bears and not worry about getting in early the next day! I’ve done it before too, it’s my holiday time and I’ll use it as I wish!

    Go Bears!

  14. Will says:

    Agree with Pete.  For us over here in the U.K. it’s an excuse to get rat-arsed and stay up all night.

    What?  Burns, you say?  That was over a week ago.  The hangover from that wore off long ago.  And I still haven’t found me kilt.

  15. James Day says:

    Will, for most of us it’s an excuse to say that we stayed up late and did something more interesting than watching the Superbowl. :) Though the chance of another reenactment of the pres exposing one of his daughters at an inaugural ball might make it worth recording… :)

  16. Andrew says:

    Though I still play my MMORPGs during the Super Bowl, I will invariably watch at least a few minutes of it.

    Our family also introduced our French exchange student to the wonder that is American football play-offs, so of course he is hooked.

    I’m still debating which is worse drugs or MMORPGs, both would likely spell the demise of my GPA.

  17. JaJa says:

    Morgen haben wir eine Superbowl Party vor, die Hälfte der Menschen wissen nicht welche Mannschaften spielen, aber egal.  Mag den Blog.  Tschiao.

  18. Folks outside of the US more than likely have no idea what today is …hell, I’m not even that much of

  19. Peete says:

    "…absolutely nothing…" are you kidding??? British born, bred and living in the UK. (American) Football is the only sport I watch religiously! Geez – I took my other half to Paris a couple of years ago and I was peeved that I was going to miss the Sunday night games… Was lucky enought to find an Irish bar and caught the football on TV! Sweet.  Just about to put my order in for tickets for the game in London this year – http://www.nfllondon2007.com/. :oD – Peete

  20. Bob says:

    Question for ya Peete – how did you get into American Football?  Do you watch US games or NFL Europe?  For me, half the fun in sports is the bandwagon, and if I couldn’t go into places like work and talk about it or go to a roudy bar where everybody is into the game, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

    Living in the US, I could never get into Soccer because nobody around here cares about it above the youth level, but I probably would get into it if I lived in London or Sao Paolo.

  21. Cooney says:

    Mitch:

    The problem with the Super Bowl in Europe is that it’s on at about 3AM. It’s hard to make watching such a broadcast into a family tradition.

    Funny, when the world cup was on (or any Cricket chaompionship), all the fans here in seattle watched it at whatever godforsaken time it was on and built their day around that.

  22. Luci Sandor says:

    I think nobody watched the game in my building, since 52% of the people in this town don’t speak English at home. I never hear of the Colts until Saturday, I am going to forget their name until the next year, so I couldn’t understand why even Al Jazeera had live coverage on their website.

  23. Peete says:

    In response to Bob – I got into NFL purely by accident.  Channel 4 TV used to show some highlights and someimtes a whole game (shock!) way back when I was a kid.  I was lucky enough to have a friend at school who also watched…  After then, I got more into it at University and played for the Uni team – meanwhile Sky sports (satellite) has just gone from strength to strength – now showing 4 games per game weekend, often the Thursday night game and Channel 5 do the Monday night game!  I just wish I had the time to catch all the games AND watch the NHL, which is televised on Wednesdays!:o0

    I’ve never seen the attraction in "Soccer", probably because I was no good at it as a kid and the fact that it’s taken to obsession here in the UK.  Cheers!

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