I watch the Super Bowl

I watch the Super Bowl.

I don’t really follow football, though I have enough Californians on my Facebook feed that I do take notice if the 49’ers are doing anything of note, and when they were in the Super Bowl I was definitely eager to watch them play. Even so, I don’t watch any games during the regular season, even the 49’ers ones. I understand the rules enough to be able to follow the game (just) but I just don’t attach the same meaning to it as so many people do. At the end of the day, it’s grown men in ridiculous amounts of padding playing a game for people to watch, and paid obscene amounts of money to do so. Maybe I’ve been in New Zealand too long, but I’ve come to have far more respect for rugby as an actual game of skill / toughness than American Football.

I watch the Super Bowl, though.

I grew up with football in my life. My father was an avid fan, a die-hard 49’er fan through thick and thin, but a fan of football overall as well. I went to Super Bowl parties, always at the same house, every year, from as young as I can remember. Whilst there I didn’t actually watch the game – not once. I played with the other kids of football-mad parents, and of course, I ate the food. I relished the food. Even so, the Super Bowl has never really been about the food for me.

I watch the Super Bowl.

While watching, I hear the noise of the Super Bowl party around me, even whilst sitting in the humid summer air, watching it live and by myself in the middle of the day in New Zealand. Every touchdown that’s made, I hear roar of the small crowd watching in the living room of Mary and Chris Cunningham, half of them standing up and cheering with full-bodied gusto for any given touchdown, even whilst the other half stayed seated on the edge of their seats, rapt with faith and hope in their chosen team. Most of all though, I hear my father’s voice, how every touchdown (and specifically for the 49ers), he used to yell, “TOUCHDOWN 49ERS!” as if those not watching still needed the update, or on the off-chance those that were watching missed it by some unlikely chance. I can’t, in fact, watch a touchdown, without hearing my father’s booming voice in my head yell “TOUCHDOWN!” I watch the Super Bowl, and I remember my father.

I watch the Super Bowl.

For the first several years I lived in New Zealand, I didn’t. I didn’t have any access to Sky Sport channels (the only ones that air the Super Bowl here in NZ) and I didn’t care enough to go to a sport’s bar that aired it, as several around the city do, catering specifically to homesick Americans and the strange breed of Kiwi that is fascinated by all things American. I’d still catch the highlights on the nightly news, as major things in America, including in American-specific sports, still make the news here, at least as a few passing highlights.

I watch the Super Bowl, though, if I can.

By the strange accident (otherwise known as procrastination and laziness) of us still subscribing to Sky Sport, even though I only ever watch an odd handful of things on those channels (like the Super Bowl – or Rugby World Cup – or the Olympics), I watch the Super Bowl if I can. I will even go to the extent of recording it, specifically to watch the game. As I’m in New Zealand, I can’t claim that I watch the Super Bowl simply for the ads, as by necessity the ads here are all local ones, and due to being a paid-TV channel, the ads are exclusively for other shows on the sports channels, all of which I could care less about. The ads here – at least, the ones that air on said paid TV during the Super Bowl – have very little pure entertainment value, either. I do actively miss the American ads, and most years will search out the supposed best ones on YouTube.

Thank God for YouTube and it’s ability to enable me to watch paid advertisements by choice.

I watch the Super Bowl on the odd occasion I’m in the USA for it. Which, since I moved to New Zealand, has been all of once. On that particular day, my mother was very near death, and spent the day in the hospital having the excess fluid from her lungs drained. But I remember that she always watched the Super Bowl, even after she and my father separated. She also followed football in general in a closer way than I ever have, and for a reason I could never understand (or remember). I watch the Super Bowl. And now, memories of my mother will always be a part of me watching the Super Bowl.

I watch the Super Bowl.

Last year I watched the Super Bowl whilst rocking on a swiss ball, with intermittent labour pains that would neither go away or progress to anything real. I used the stop-start clock of the game to time the stop-start niggles that I was having, and wondered if my little guy inside would choose to make his appearance on the day of the Super Bowl – a date that’s as much of an accident of chance as having a birthday on Easter, changing date every year but always in the vincinity. In the end, William decided the Super Bowl was not his thing, and he waited til several days later to make his appearance. Now, though, when I watch the Super Bowl I think of my son William, named for his grandfather, who always watched the Super Bowl, and his impending birthday.

I watch the Super Bowl.

I watch it with the same memories and eagerness that many watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve. It is just as much a marker of time gone by, and heralding the year to come. It holds markers of my culture, and memories of my past. It keeps me, in some strange disembodied way, still grounded in my American culture even whilst living in my chosen country of New Zealand. I watch the Super Bowl, whether I care about the outcome or the teams playing. I watch the Super Bowl because it is ingrained in who I am.


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