Here for Halftime: A Beginner’s Guide to Super Bowl LIII

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Disclaimer: this article has next-to-nothing to do with football.

This weekend, you can kiss the Sunday Scaries goodbye as the most “important” and widely-watched North American sporting event, nay, spectacle, is here. The Super Bowl is like Carni-flu or disappointing your parents — simply unavoidable. That being said, regardless of your football knowledge, or lack thereof, this day is about much more than football; there is something for everyone, even you.

My intention is not to “mansplain,” or rather “womansplain” the Super Bowl to anyone who feels that they are well informed. Rather, I would like to take this opportunity to lay out the facts so that everyone, not just football fans, can get an idea of what they will inevitably be forced to watch. I may not (can’t say I will not because I most certainly do) even discuss Tom Brady, because a shout-out in McGill’s premier student-run magazine just might send his ego over the edge.

That being said, regardless of your football knowledge, or lack thereof, this day is about much more than football; there is something for everyone, even you.

As a non-football fan, the inescapability of watching the game this Sunday is anxiety-inducing. Despite years of resistance against the National Football League, my viewership is almost a guarantee. So why not make it the best day of my life? In past years, no matter how much I have resisted — mentally, emotionally, even physically — time and time again I find myself at some trashy, student-run Super Bowl “event” (see link for tickets to Carlos & Pepe’s), swimming in a sea of beer pitchers and jerseys where $8.00 shots of tequila are advertised as a “Super Bowl Sunday Special.” This year, you can take my money, but you will not take my pride, for I am determined to prove that this day can be enjoyed by even the biggest skeptics.

If you’re thinking of rooting for the Patriots solely because of Brady’s devilish good-looks, think again. Goff happens to look a little bit like Ryan Gosling; do with that what you will.

This Super Bowl Sunday, follow my carefully crafted 7-step guide to stay informed on all things sports-unrelated and guarantee a #Woke day, no matter your commitment-level.

  1. The Teams: The two teams facing off on Sunday are the New England Patriots, spearheaded by quarterback His Majesty Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. If you’ve never heard of him, I revoke my previous statement and advise you to stay home on Sunday. Yes, he might kiss both his 11-year-old son and his 84-year-old dad on the lips, but that does not discount his talent. The other team competing is the Los Angeles Rams, led by quarterback Jared Goff. If you’re thinking of rooting for the Patriots solely because of Brady’s devilish good-looks, think again. Goff happens to look a little bit like Ryan Gosling; do with that what you will.
  1. Who to Cheer For: If you, like myself, do not know the first thing about football, nor have any interest in pursuing this quest for knowledge, you can still make an informed decision. There are a couple tid-bits that are sure to sway your opinion in one direction or another. While Brady is seemingly uncontested as the greatest football player of all time, the Rams are good people, too. Recently, Ram’s wide-receiver Brandin Cooks and the rest of the team surprised the team’s custodian, Alfonso Garcia, with tickets for him and his son to come down to Atlanta and experience the game. What a heartwarming tribute to thank Garcia for his commitment to the team. Take that, Tom.
  2. The Location: This year’s Super Bowl will take place at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Did someone say guest appearances? Atlanta is home to some national treasures in the music industry: Migos, Ludacris, (not home to Maroon 5; more on that later), Usher, Travis Scott, and I could go on. Perhaps a bigger national treasure, Chick-fil-A, has a location in the new stadium. However, they are closed on Sundays, and there has unfortunately been no news concerning a possible exception for the Bowl.
  3. The Pepsi Super-Bowl LIII Halftime Show: Perhaps the most important part of the day. Heroic and die-hard football fans will walk away from the TV during the halftime show, claiming this is not what the day “should be about”, and to those those people I say: shame on you. While my favourite part of the Super Bowl (re: the only part I watch) is the halftime show, I, along with the rest of the world, am a little bit skeptical about this year’s choice. Out of all the innovative and groundbreaking artists of 2018, Maroon 5 is the best we could get? Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the group, but this decision does not make much sense to me. Travis Scott and Big Boi will be joining the boy-band at the show: an unlikely collaboration or possibly, a match made in heaven. The group and guest performers have come under fire for accepting the gig, and the NFL ultimately cancelled the pre-show press-conference with the act. That being said, I imagine the group’s female-centric song, “Girl’s Like You” ft. Cardi B, will be on the setlist, which begs the question: will Cardi herself make a cameo appearance? A girl can dream. Controversy surrounding this question and the coveted performance slot in general erupted after Rihanna turned down the offer and many followed the Bad Gal, seemingly in light of the Colin Kaepernick dispute. Cardi herself has confirmed that money was not a factor in her decision; rather, she is standing in solidarity with Kaepernick, tweeting in 2018, “All I want to know is…when are they going to hire Colin Kaepernick…”, who remains unemployed by the League.
  4. Making Money (moves): After blowing $20 on mediocre nachos and canned pico-de-gallo, there is bound to be some buyer’s remorse on Sunday. Lo and behold, there are betting opportunities that do not involve sports. Websites such as Oddsshark allow you to place bets on anything from the length of the National Anthem, to the colour of the infamous Gatorade shower for the winning team (pro-tip: yellow’s the one to watch this year).
  5. The Commercials: Arguably the second most important part of the Super Bowl. We, in Canada, are unfortunately not blessed with the big-time ads for which companies pay literal millions (USD) to air during the game. However, we do get the second best, as well as free health-care. There are already controversies surrounding advertisements that were banned from the Super Bowl, such as the ad for “Devour Frozen Foods” that compared frozen food “addiction” to pornography addiction — and there will be more. So, make sure to watch the commercials and stay in the loop.
  6. Making Your Co-workers Think You Understand Football on Monday Morning: Pro-tip: go to twitter during the game and type in buzzwords such as “football” or “Super Bowl”, “Rams”, “Brady”, what have you. Get creative with it. There are billions of people’s opinions and very specific moments in the game just there for the taking (note: I am not advocating for any sort of fraud, just in case Brad from Human Resources asks you too many questions). If you don’t have time for this kind of strenuous research, going with “Was the ref kidding when (insert moment when ref may have been kidding)?” is usually a safe bet.

After blowing $20 on mediocre nachos and canned pico-de-gallo, there is bound to be some buyer’s remorse on Sunday. Lo and behold, there are betting opportunities that do not involve sports.

Above all else, Sunday is about coming together, taking a rare opportunity to day-drink guilt-free, stuffing your face with taquitos and (for many) celebrating the end of the football season so that we can all return to anticipating whether or not A Star Is Born will win best picture. Stay tuned!

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