On not watching the Superbowl

I think a lot about what it means to be an American. That’s not because being American is a decision I’ve made — I was born in Massachusetts, and my family has been here for at least a couple generations. I’m a big fan of the big-shoulders brashness Americans have, our ability to say what we mean and go for what we want, and the fact that we talk loudly and wear sweatpants on airplanes.

Image: NFL.com

In part, I think about “American-ness” a lot because my husband emigrated to the United States and nothing throws your home culture into sharp relief more than being around someone who’s not from it.

But in much larger part, it’s because there are certain things that are an enormous part of American life in which I just have zero interest. And that, more than almost anything else, makes me wonder what it actually means, this whole American thing.

Exhibit one (and the biggest, fattest, one of all): I have NO INTEREST in the Superbowl, or indeed in organized sports in general. I know organized sports, and even hysteria over said sports, isn’t a specifically American thing (google “football riot” if you don’t believe me) — but, not surprisingly, we do it in a specifically American way. With binge eating/drinking. And hugely expensive commercials.

The dangers associated with football, and the huge role the sport has taken in how we (as a nation, not necessarily you, or you, or you) raise our raise our children, trouble me, yes. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I feel like, in not being interested in the Superbowl — which is basically a big, fat affirmation of our “U.S.A!”-ness, I’m alienating myself from my countrymen and -women. And it’s not like I feel all churlish about it and would hold some kind of anti-Superbowl party with tofu wings, or make a big deal about the Puppybowl. I just don’t care. Superbowl Sunday is, for me, just another day. And I don’t even look for the ads online.

So here’s my question: What makes you Un-American? Or Un-Canadian? Do you hate french fries? Do you have no interest in Disneyland/world? Do you believe the Protestant ethic is essentially invalid? Are you some kind of communist? (Just kidding on that last one.)

3 Responses to “On not watching the Superbowl”

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  1. Lucy Martin says:

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Growing up in Hawaii, there are all sorts of foods everyone is supposed to like, such as SPAM, or raw fish served as poke or sashimi.

    Call me haole, but I prefer fish cooked. As for SPAM, it leaves much to be desired no matter how it’s prepared.

    On the other hand, I totally agree that rice should be an essential part of almost any meal. (Calrose rice. None of that Uncle Ben long grain junk.)

    On a national level, I cringe when crowds start chanting “U.S.A.”
    For some reason, that just feels like mob jingoism to me. It makes me embarrassed to be American.

    But now I am also Canadian, after becoming a dual-national. Some Canadians take pleasure in bashing the States. (Not as often as you might think, but yes, it happens.) And it’s frequently deserved, because all countries have their foibles.

    But when the comments get too smug, I just want to say “Hey, Canada has feet of clay too.”

    Oh, one more thing: I love fries. I adore cheese curds. They are good together. But I don’t want gravy involved. (This alone makes me suspect as a true Canadian.)

    As for the Superbowl, to me the show and the ads represent a big serving of anthropology pie.

    Yum, anthropology pie! I’d like a slice from as many countries as possible, please!

  2. dave says:

    Nora, good blog post and interesting question.

    I did not watch the game either. It was on TV, but I was in another room and I only listened in a few times.

    I grew up playing football in a town where football was, more or less, the most important thing in a lot of people’s lives. Playing and watching it was a passion of mine all the way through college.

    And then something happened… I just sort of lost interest.

    At the time I told my friends it was because the game was changing. This was true… the game did change dramatically from when I used to play and watch. Rules were tweaked to make the game more exciting for what I called casual fans (those who likely never played themselves) – an emphasis on scoring and high flying offenses. A de-emphasis on hard nosed, fight for every inch, run and defend, chess match style games.

    I preferred the latter, and had little interest in watching the former.

    So that was a part of it.

    But in recent years my dis-interest in football has as much to do with my dis-interest in the spectacle of it all. The meat head tailgating culture, the commercialization, the exploitation…

    So now I have to come to realize that it just wasn’t the game that changed – but I too had changed.

    Does that make me un-American? Crap, good question. It certainly makes me an American with a minority opinion about this particular sport and the popular culture that has sprung up around it.

    Oh well. Besides, isn’t baseball America’s past time? I can still stomach a good baseball game every now and then. I wonder if that redeems my Americanness!

  3. erb says:

    It’s kind of weird that the location of the bed (or floor, or hot tub) where you pop out has such significance for your winnings in the big lottery of life. But, there it is.
    As a booster of all things local, living in the backwater that is the NCPR listening area, the thing that I think makes me most American is my lack of interest in the rest of the world. Sure, I know that horrific things are happening in Syria, and that Spaniards are looking at a decade of diminishment, but I mainly tune into stories about fracking in NY or the 3-ring circus in DC.
    Or Manti T’eo’s girlfriend. Especially that.