I don’t know if you guys have been following the news lately, but things haven’t been the most pleasant as of late for a wide variety of reasons. It’s safe to say tensions are a bit high in the United States, which has essentially become an apartment home to almost 330 million roommates who have more than a few nits to pick with their cohabitants.
However, on Sunday night, Americans will have the chance to put their differences aside and unite around the one thing that’s capable of bringing the country together for at least a few hours: the Super Bowl.
Even if you don’t care about who’s playing in the Super Bowl, don’t even know who’s playing in the Super Bowl, or don’t even know anything about football in the first place, I don’t know how you can actively dislike The Big Game and all of the festivities that accompany it. If you’re a fan of sports, commercials, music, gambling, unhealthy food, unhealthier amounts of alcohol, or potentially seeing an exposed breast on national television, you have a reason to tune in on a night where the country has something it can rally around. It’s sort of like Christmas; sure, you might not like having to go to church to make your parents happy, but there are still plenty of other things to enjoy.
If none of those aforementioned aspects appeal to you, you probably still have a vested interest in the Super Bowl whether or not you realize it, as I can’t imagine there’s a single person who’s not down with the movement to make the Monday after the contest a national holiday. Even if you’ve never experienced the pleasure of waking up with a hangover, significantly less money than you had the night before, and an overwhelming sense of existential dread the morning after, I can’t imagine you’d object to that proposal.
I’m going to assume the three people on the planet who’ve disagreed with everything I’ve had to say so far have already stopped reading this, so now that they’re gone, we can turn our focus to what brought you here: how to make one of the most objectively enjoyable days of the year as enjoyable as possible.
I’ve experienced the Super Bowl in a number of different environments over the years; I’ve gone to parties with my family and friends, watched it inside dorm rooms and bars, and even held a gathering where the only people in attendance were me, myself, and I (I don’t want to talk about it.)
Regardless of how you spend the night, the amount of entertainment you get out of it requires a bit of planning concerning a number of different factors that play a pivotal role in maximizing your level of fun. You’ll inevitably encounter some uncontrollable variables along the way, but if you do what you can to follow the incredibly scientific formula I’ve used my experiences to develop, you should have a pretty good time when everything is said and done.
Now, I personally start prepping as soon as the betting lines are released after the Super Bowl matchup is solidified, but even if you haven’t devoted a couple of weeks preparing for football’s biggest night of the year, you still of plenty of time to gear up and make Sunday the best it can possibly be.
Before we jump into things, I should say this advice is largely reserved for people who don’t have a rooting interest in either team that will be playing. I’m also not going to dwell on the whole pandemic thing, because if you’re not planning on celebrating this year’s game in a safe and responsible manner by following the guidelines I sincerely doubt I have to remind you about by now, then nothing I’m going to say is going to change your mind.
With that said, let’s do this.
How To Have The Perfect Super Bowl
Setting & People
The ideal Super Bowl experience essentially hinges upon the “5 Ws”: who, what, when, where, and why. The “what,” when,” and “why” are sort of predetermined, so while you don’t have to focus on them too much, the “who” and “where” are far and away the most important decisions you’ll make.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s no debate over what is easily the most important aspect of Super Bowl Sunday: location, location, location. Where to watch the game is the biggest question that needs to be answered, but sadly, it’s not always your decision. For example, if you’re in a relationship, your significant other might drag you into a situation where you don’t know a single person, the only time people stop talking is during the commercials, and your “seat” is the arm of a couch. It’s brutal, but it happens (and you don’t have to be in a relationship to suffer the same fate).
During a typical year, your options are usually limited to a few locales: a bar, someone else’s home, or your own place. Now, the best backdrop technically comes down to personal preference, but there’s one that’s obviously superior to all of the rest.
Regardless of what bar you go to, your experience is going to be exactly the same: there will be a few people you know, a bunch you’ve never met and will never meet again, and a decibel level that you’ll probably get tired of halfway through the first quarter. Regardless of how much fun you have during the game, there’s also a chance you’ll have the entire night ruined once you take a look at the bill after waiting 20 minutes to close your tab.
It’s hard to go wrong with taking someone up on their offer to attend a nice little get-together, but as I mentioned above, you never really know what you’re going to walk into. While you can bring some food and booze with you, you’re ultimately at the mercy of their choices, will inevitably find yourself engaged in an unspoken game of musical chairs, and usually encounter a fellow partygoer who doesn’t understand why you were pissed they were blocking the TV during the “just a stupid coin toss” you had $50 on.
Pro tip: FaceTime the host a few hours before and see if you can subtly persuade them to give you a glimpse at the seating arrangement so you can figure out the ideal spot. Feel free to thank me later.
That last option is easily the best play, but throwing your own shindig is an acceptable fallback. However, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks—many of which were highlighted by aspiring boxer Aaron Carter in this seminal work.
The last thing you want is for some rando to come in and spill juice on your new cushion, and if you do throw your own party, you’ll usually end up spending more time keeping an eye on your guests than the game itself. It beats spending the night by yourself (trust me), but I highly recommend doing everything in your power to burden someone else with the responsibilities that come with going this route.
If you’re a consistent Diet Starts Monday Guy like me, there might be nothing capable of making your night quite like the Super Bowl spread. Winning a box at the end of a quarter is great, but it has nothing on the pleasure that comes with consuming a week’s worth of calories over the course of an evening.
I always head into Super Bowl Sunday telling myself it will be the last hurrah before my diet starts, as in my mind, the end of football season marks the start of preparing for #BeachSZN. Does that plan usually fall apart as soon as I wake up Monday and order McDonald’s breakfast in an attempt to ease my hangover? Yes, yes it does, but I’m sure this year will be different.
As I alluded to above, if you’re going to someone else’s place, it’s essential to bring at least one dish that you know you can turn to if they’re one of those people who thinks a veggie platter, a bowl of mixed nuts, and cheese and crackers are suitable for the occasion. If you’re not greeted with a table filled with wings, pigs in a blanket, and a crockpot filled with some sort of cheesy dip when you walk in the door, you might as well just walk right back through it.
However, it’s important to remember that all of these appetizers are exactly that: appetizers. Sure, you probably don’t need a main course after mainlining a table filled with artery cloggers, but it’s essential to have some sort of main attraction to look forward to, whether we’re talking about something as simple as pizza or as elaborate as an impossibly long sandwich.
Of course, you’re also going to need something to wash all of that down, which brings us to…
It should go without saying that you should start boozing as soon as the party starts—if not earlier. However, if you decide to get your drink on during the day, you need to pace yourself to make it through the night; you don’t want to blackout and miss Tom Brady winning his seventh ring (or maybe you do, and if that’s the case, you should also bring a bottle of some hard stuff you can start chugging if it looks like that’s going to happen).
Having something set aside for yourself like that is always a good idea, but it should also go without saying that you should always bring some communal beer in tow if someone was nice enough to invite you somewhere. The best move here is to get something you like and hide it in the back of the fridge to create a de facto personal stash while still making it seem like you’re a good guest. Everyone wins!
Now we’re talking, baby! The Super Bowl is basically Gambler’s Christmas, but much like that holiday, it can be the source of an incredible amount of emotional distress depending on how things pan out. However, if you’re lucky, it can also be the source of some unbridled elation capable of redeeming the night no matter how shitty the food was or how insufferable other people were.
Despite being intimately familiar with gambling, I’m still overwhelmed by the bounty of betting options that greet me whenever the Super Bowl rolls around. There are just so many ways to win (or, more likely, lose) money thanks in no smart part to the almost impossible number of bets we’re treated to every year.
I’ve learned that the key to gambling on the Super Bowl is to allocate a certain amount of money ahead of time as a hard cap and spread it over the smorgasbord of the wagering options—spreads, parlays, props, boxes, etc.—that present themselves on Sunday. Regardless of how much you decide to commit, the most important thing is to be prepared to lose it all. Adopting this pessimistic mindset will ensure you resist the urge to kick the TV if the Gatorade somehow isn’t orange and potentially let you end the night on a high note before getting curbstomped by reality the next morning.
I look at betting on the Super Bowl the same way as the food and beer I consume during it: it’s going to be a while until you can bet on football again, so you might as well go big.
Commercials may seem a bit out of place compared to everything else on this list, as it’s not like you control if a brand is going to use cute animals or sex to try to sell you their beer this year. What you can control, however, is how much influence the “Super Bowl Commercials Are Better Than The Super Bowl” lobby has on the overall experience.
The fact that so many people happily cater to someone who will loudly engage in a conversation during a fourth-and-goal situation but start shushing even louder to make sure they don’t miss the newest addition to the Honda Accord marketing canon is simply ludicrous. There’s no easy way to tell them to shut up, but if you don’t have the spine to address this issue by the first commercial break, the night is already ruined.
Are the commercials important? I mean, I guess. They can be entertaining at times, and if you care about your social media game, you’re going to want to pay attention so you can send out some fire tweets that only end up getting a couple of likes because the world just isn’t ready to appreciate your comedic genius yet.
However, Super Bowl commercials aren’t the beast they once were. Nowadays, most of them have already hit the internet by the time they air, and if we’re being honest, everyone should’ve just packed up their things and gone home after we were introduced to the E-Trade Baby.
It’s really just been all downhill from there.
We also already know that we’re going to be treated to an onslaught of literally identical commercials littered with phrases like “new normal” and “trying times” as brands try to avoid having any fun, with some of them deciding to skip Super Bowl LV entirely (I can’t imagine how pissed the Budweiser Clydesdales must be about losing the only steady gig they have)
You know what? Maybe we should just talk over the commercials this year.
Unlike the commercials, the halftime show is a must-watch. You should take advantage of the break in the action to re-up on food, grab some more alcohol, and hit the bathroom [IMPORTANT: CALL FIVES BEFORE LEAVING YOUR SEAT. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH], but you have to make sure you wrap all of that up by the time the actual performance starts.
Even if you don’t care about who’s performing, it’s worth watching for the logistics alone. It’s wild to think about everything that goes into making the show happen, and if this year’s is anything like what we were treated to in Miami, you’re not going to want to miss it (although The Weeknd has some work cut out for him.)
You might not be playing in the Super Bowl, but using halftime to recover a bit is just as important as it is for the guys on the field.
Prepare for Monday
I’m kidding. There’s absolutely no way to prepare. It’s the worst day of the year, so buckle up. It’s going to be a shitty, shitty day. You can maybe grab some Pedialyte, but you can only do so much.
That’s really all you need to know. Good luck, and good night.