Help me enjoy the Superbowl
January 19, 2004 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Who should I root for in the superbowl? [more inside]

I don't know much about football -- the basic rules, probably, minutia of NCAA and NFL rules, probably not. I haven't watched a game since I left college. Are there rivalries and history I should be aware of? Relative strengths and weaknesses of the teams? Behind the scenes dramas? What should I know to ride the cultural wave, instead of totally ignoring it?
posted by weston to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total)
Go with your gut. Look at the two teams and whichever one you feel the most towards (for whatever reason-geography, attitude, uniforms, whatever) that's the one you root for.
posted by jonmc at 6:56 PM on January 19, 2004

I believe if you have no compelling interest in the game, you should root for a good, hotly-contested match that's decided by the players and not the officials, and also root for individual "good guys" to do well. I always find out which players are from my alma mater and root for them to play a good game as well.
posted by vito90 at 7:23 PM on January 19, 2004

Turn the TV off and throw it away. You'll be far happier and more fulfillled than you could ever be from watching an inane sport specifically designed to maximise advertising minutes.

Alternatively, watch some real football.
posted by cbrody at 7:56 PM on January 19, 2004

Root for the Carolina Panthers.

Now wasn't that easy?
posted by konolia at 7:57 PM on January 19, 2004

Al Sharpton definitely knows the most Romance languages. Oh, sorry, wrong thread.

But seriously, you might want to browse through some history. Note that the Patriots make their debut in 1959, while the Panthers don't apear until 1995. So if you have a strong preference, Hollywood-storyline-wise, for Old School or for New School, for the Veteran or for the Upstart, that would be one basis upon which to decide.

Note, also, that "New England" is a region with a long and often glorious professional sports history, whiie "Carolina" is a song by Shaggy.
posted by staggernation at 8:02 PM on January 19, 2004


oh.... wait, nevermind....

*grumble*grumble* stupid 4th & 26 *grumble*grumble*
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:20 PM on January 19, 2004

If you have to ask this, why are you watching?
posted by Dasein at 8:39 PM on January 19, 2004

Root for weird, amusing stuff to happen. Root for someone to get nekkid and run across the field with his johnson flapping in the breeze. Root for good commercials. If you're at a party, root for good goopy dip. Root for a big giant hail-Mary pass that's juuuuuust about in someone's hands.... Root for a fumbled field goal that ends up halfway down the field only to be re-fumbled and taken back for a touchdown. Root for the mascots of each team to get into a fight.* Root for players to cuss live on camera.

Root for the ball to turn into a balding fat guy.... it's goooooood that Bart did that.

*I once saw the Virginia Cavalier break the leg or otherwise Hurt Real Bad the Maryland Terrapin, but that was an accident and you don't wish injuries on people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:02 PM on January 19, 2004

Turn the TV off and throw it away. You'll be far happier and more fulfillled than you could ever be from watching an inane sport specifically designed to maximise advertising minutes.

Thanks, that was helpful!
posted by The God Complex at 10:38 PM on January 19, 2004

North Carolina stole the Hartford Whalers. Why would you root for such a state?
posted by PrinceValium at 11:16 PM on January 19, 2004

Of course, while the Patriots may hail from 1959, as recently as 10 years ago you couldn't pay people to attend their games. It took the arrival of current Cowboys coach Bill Parcells to get anyone interested in football here in what is really a baseball and hockey/basketball kind of town.

Now every meathead in metrowest will tell you "he's been goin' to games since before he could walk" and isn't "Patriot Nation" this wonderful, hardcore fan base and the season ticket waiting is 8 gazillion long (true only recently) blah blah blah.... Don't listen to them. My father-in-law, a huge NY Giants fan, decided to split time between the Pats and Giants when Parcells came up here. He called and had season tickets the same day...

Of course, rooting for a team that's younger than some shirts I have is equally as depressing. I think I'd like some halftime show problem to render the field unplayable and have the game canceled.

Or follow cbrody's advice, one-nil to the Arsenal!
posted by jalexei at 5:32 AM on January 20, 2004

posted by corpse at 5:59 AM on January 20, 2004

Jalexei's going for some revisionist history.

Many, many New Englanders were watching the Pats faithfully before the Parcells era. I am the original owner of a c. 1984 Irving Friar jersey, and my father has been a Patriots fan since day one.

Weston, there's no good reson to choose allegiance to either team if you don't have a regional connection. However, I submit this-- your username is also the name of a Boston suburb. Root for the Pats!

(And root for the "sports are for troglodytes" folks to suffer horrible wedgie flashbacks.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:09 AM on January 20, 2004

Definitely the underdog, whoever that is.

If you have to ask this, why are you watching?

Having a team to support drastically increases the enjoyment of a game for the spectator. This might not be true for all people, but it is true for many, myself included. If this is being broadcast live in the UK I'll certainly try to catch it - I'll listen to the preamble and see who the people are calling the outsiders.

Failing that you could go by geographical location - which is nearer - do you have connections of any sort to either place?
posted by nthdegx at 6:15 AM on January 20, 2004

Many, many New Englanders were watching the Pats faithfully before the Parcells era.

Well, I might argue "Many, many" is just as revisionist, but while I certainly exaggerated for effect (my old boss' father had season tickets from day one, they're currently on the 50-yard line about 12 rows up) there are far more fans recently. I just compare it to having grown up in Jersey, where getting a Giants ticket was never easy, even through years of suckitude... (though even that showed signs of changing at the end of the Fassel era...). And while it pains me to admit it, the Pats (unlike the luck-filled ride to their last title) are a damn good team this year. I just like being contrary.
posted by jalexei at 7:12 AM on January 20, 2004

Try and find out which team God is backing.

Also, if you can't decide, just fell good with the fact that this was the best year EVER for the Raiders and hope that Oakland repeats this trend for the next decade.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:40 AM on January 20, 2004

Alternately, you could "feel good"
posted by eyeballkid at 7:41 AM on January 20, 2004

Root for whichever team is being supported by the denizens of your bar. (You are going to watch it in a bar, aren't you? Being surrounded by screaming drunk persons who've put large sums of money on the game is half the fun.)

Me, I'm going to skip it. I'm only a peripheral football fan, and unless the Redskins are in it I don't have much interest, since 90% of the time the Super Bowl is a boring blowout.
posted by languagehat at 8:25 AM on January 20, 2004

Watch for the commercials, go to the bathroom/get snacks & drinks during the game itself. If you want to "ride the cultural wave," you'll hear at least as much around the water cooler the next day about the commercials as about the game itself.

That said, the quality of SB commercials has been down for about the past three years, compared to what it had been before that. Hopefully this year will be better.

... specifically designed to maximise advertising minutes.

See? cbrody gets it!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2004

Several papers have produced lavish SuperBowl coverage, which could help you make up your mind. The New York Times (reg./reg) and the Washington Post come to mind. Your local paper, whatever it may be, may have even written a thing or two.
posted by haqspan at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2004

jalexei, I think you, like a number of folks on Panthers message boards, are making the mistake of assuming the period 1988-1993 (or thereabouts) represents the entire history of the Boston/ New England franchise.

The Patriots were a mess for most of the 1980s-- they were owned by the Sullivans, the type of family that is only tolerated because they've been around for so long. Things got worse, amazingly, when Billy Sullivan tried to actually make a smart dollar by selling high. To Victor Kiam. Who is best remembered for . . . well, Remington shavers. But best remembered in the football business for a completely unfortunate Patriot Missle joke in reference to Zeke Mowatt exposing himself to Lisa Olsen in the locker room.

The NFL forced Kiam out much like one encourages a drunk to leave one's holiday party before they wet themselves. Things only got worse as the team was put in the hands of James Orthwein, whose best unalid plan was taking the team to St. Louis. Thankfully, local magnate and season ticket holder Robert Kraft bought the team and set about repairing the local fan base by building a solid organization.

While any number of New Englanders are Giants fans because they (or their fathers) pre-date the founding of the Boston Patriots, this does not mean there were no Pats fans in the days of Jim Nantz, Gino Capiletti and the uncrowned kings of 1970-whenever (I wasn't around until 1975 and things are cloudy until the 80s).

Root for the Patriots and owners who fund stadiums out of their own pocket.
posted by yerfatma at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2004

  • Carolina is one of the newest teams in the league, and in their first ever Super Bowl
  • Carolina was just 1-15 two years ago.
  • Carolina has been a season-long underdog. They were expected to finish last in their conference, and did just the opposite. They beat the number 1 defense in the NFL at home. Then they went on the road and beat two tough teams, in their home stadiums, as the underdog. They're 7 point underdogs in the Bowl, as well.
  • Carolina is made up for the most part of people who were regarded as washed up, talentless, also-rans, or a combination of the three. They have pulled together as a team to exceed without any real mega-stars, just they way a sports team should be.
  • Delhomme, Carolina's QB, is just about the most humble, modest quarterback you'll ever see in the Super Bowl. Recently, when asked about his stellar performance, his only comment was that he was glad his receivers were finally getting some attention.
Of course, I may be biased, as I'm from NC.
posted by jammer at 4:23 PM on January 20, 2004

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