Fans often find themselves at the mercy of outsiders whenever sports cross over into the mainstream culture.
These outsiders aren’t bad people per se; they just don’t grasp, care about or understand sports. This is of particular importance this weekend, because there is nothing more mainstream than the Super Bowl.
In one sense, this is a good thing. Super Bowl parties have a cornucopia of food, drink and socializing. But these sorts of events attract a wide range of people, with an even wider range of interests. Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a (stereotypical) list detailing the 10 types of attendees at Super Bowl parties. You cannot avoid these people, but knowledge is power – use this as a guide to maintain sanity and, you know, enjoy the game.
TIER 1: Why are you here?
Is That a Safety or a First Down?:These people are horrible. They couldn’t tell you where the Seahawks are from, or who Peyton Manning is. Even worse, they ask questions about the game, rules or players like they actually care. (They don’t.) They’re the equivalent of the friend who asks a million questions about a movie 45 minutes after you started watching it.
Space Fillers: I’m not sure if these attendees are better or worse than the previous group. On one hand, they don’t care enough to ask a question, which is nice; on the other, they’re the type of person that blocks the television at the worst possible time, and then gives attitude when the group complains about missing a big play.
Is It Over Yet?: Probably my least favorite type of person in this tier to watch the Super Bowl with. They don’t – nor do they pretend – to care, which is fine. HOWEVER, they actively diminish the viewing experience by nagging whoever they came with about how LONG and BORING the game is. I never understand this. What type of life are these people leading? Do they have something better to do on a cold Sunday night in February? Their expressions of “SHOOT. ME. IN. THE. FACE.” tells you everything you need to know about them.
Culture Critic: They’ll likely talk about the FCC’s expanded regulations following Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s “Nipplegate.” Maybe they’ll make a socioeconomic argument about Richard Sherman, Stanford University, and the connotation and meaning of the word “thug.” They aren’t watching a football game; they’re taking notes and crafting a blog entry on philosophy and sports.
Commonality: As little as they care about the game, each sub-section of this tier cannot get enough of the halftime show and funny commercials. They’ll dissect these ancillary items like Peyton studies game film. It’s a fascinating transition of interest. Zero to 60.
TIER 2: Just one of the guys
The Old Timer: The older guy who, without a doubt, will complain about a player’s hair or tattoos. Even crazier, despite overwhelming evidence about the long term dangers of head injuries, this guy will probably make an inappropriate remark about how concussions are overrated, moaning about “Why can’t we go back to the way things were?!”
The Know-It-All: As much as I enjoy watching football with like-minded fans, no one likes a know-it-all. Seriously, try harder. Who are you competing with, Mike Pereira? Calm down with the arcane understanding of the NFL rulebook.
The Guys’ Girl: Kind of a recent phenomenon here, but nowadays many girls “get” sports. If you take the time to really explain the intricacies – starting with what the “yellow line” means – and dive into the larger-than-life personalities, they’ll dig it. I promise. You’ll thank me when, suddenly, your Sunday Funday with the boys transforms into “quality time” with your friends and your significant other. It’s a win-win.
But one thing to fear is the girl who tries to overcompensate in this department and, much like the Know-It-All, comes across poorly. Simmer down. I don’t need you quoting advanced statistics from FootballOutsiders.com. We get it, you can hang.
The Talking Head: Ugh. The attendee who talks about sports strictly in clichés and overwrought narratives. They enjoy ESPN’s “First Take,” most definitely think Skip Bayless is insightful, and say things like, “What does another Super Bowl win for Peyton Manning say about Tom Brady???” at the start of the second quarter.
Commonality: The range of tolerance here depends on how much each of these people play into their given stereotypes. On the plus side, at least you know they’re good candidates to fill up openings in your fantasy league next season. After all, war stories from fantasy football make for great water cooler talk in the office. And make no mistake about it, these people don’t just like water cooler talk, they absolutely live for WATER COOLER TALK.
TIER 3: Riverboat maniacs
Virgin Money: I’m a firm believer that there is a little gambler in all of us, and even conservative, risk-averse friends will put some coin on the line to make Super Bowl Sunday more entertaining. But the first subgroup of this tier doesn’t gamble on a regular basis, which makes the game exciting for them, and excruciating for the rest of us. Every play is an update on the “crazy” $100 bet they dropped. STUPID PEYTON MANNING! STOP GIVING THE BALL TO MORENO! Relax, dude. Have a Dorito. It’s the opening drive.
Loose Cannon: This person bets. And bets a lot. Thus, the Super Bowl and the party you’re attending with them is their Christmas. Without pause, they’ll put this month’s rent on a crazy prop bet – like the coin toss or the length of the national anthem (HOLD THAT NOTE AS LONG AS YOU CAN!!!) – which is scary for everyone else at the party.
Look, I cannot stress this enough: Unless you don’t mind making a trip to Best Buy in the morning, hide the remote control. Yes, the remote control. If things go south, this lunatic will find your remote control and riffle it towards your fireplace. Trust me on this. And in terms of durability, BRICK WALL > Plastic Remote Control.
Commonality: Win or lose, these people are at least invested. Literally.
Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter: @Hadfield__