It’s almost here. Superbowl Sunday! It isn’t a national holiday, but it may as well be. The much-anticipated single biggest sporting event in the United States (and second only to the UEFA Champions League Final as the most-watched annual sporting event in the world) airs tomorrow–at the ungodly hour of 12:30am here in the Netherlands, I might add. I will be the first to admit that I am not usually the biggest fan of (American) football, but sitting here in Tilburg right now, my Superbowl excitement meter is pushing its limits. Like any true American I go crazy for the hype, the tradition, and the atmosphere surrounding the Superbowl. Every other day I am an American living in the Netherlands, eating Dutch food, learning Dutch culture, and following Dutch etiquette. But on Superbowl Sunday, I get to tear up while hearing my national anthem, munch on deliciously-unhealthy American snacks, cheer for my chosen team, and generally feel free to be as completely, utterly, and unabashedly “American” as I please.
This year’s contest looks to be a pretty darn good one. The AFC-champion Baltimore Ravens are taking on the favored NFC-champion San Francisco 49ers. I don’t really have an opinion as to who wins this match-up (my team is the New Orleans Saints). Arguably the most interesting story in the lead-up to the Superbowl hasn’t even concerned the teams themselves. Instead, it has been the coaches under the spotlight. For the first time in history, the head coaches of the two teams are brothers. I imagine there will be some tense dinner conversations at their house after tomorrow!
The game will be played in New Orleans, at the Superdome. The stadium (home to my beloved Saints during the regular season) looks a little like a squat nuclear reactor from the outside, but boasts one of the most incredible stadium experiences (i.e. it gets loud in there!) in the country. If there is one thing New Orleans knows how to do well, it is throw a rockin’ party. This will also be the first Superbowl to be played at the Superdome since it suffered significant damage in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Superdome (and the city of New Orleans) has certainly come a long way since almost 30,000 residents were forced to take refuge in the stadium during the hurricane and its aftermath.
The game itself is only part of the Superbowl equation. Some people (okay, women) watch the Superbowl as much for the commercials and the halftime entertainment than for the game. This year, Beyoncé is slated to perform. While most of the world is in love with her, I’m sure the network broadcasters in the U.S. will all be crossing their fingers and praying that no “nipplegate” à la Janet Jackson 2004 happens this time. My boyfriend has an entirely different viewpoint on the matter. By Dutch standards, the whole idea of censoring a nip-slip on TV is prudish American overkill. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a Dutch movie that doesn’t have at least a few boob shots. The nonchalant way the Dutch act about breasts, one would almost think half the population possesses them!
My personal favorite aspect of the Superbowl is without a doubt the commercials. At a going rate of $4 million for a 30 second ad, you can pretty much guarantee there will be some good ones. Last year, I missed the commercials because I watched the Superbowl on the BBC online broadcast in the UK, which edited them out in place of normal BBC advertisements (who does that?!). Let me tell you, the Superbowl is beyond boring without my yearly dose of hilarious Anhueser-Busch/Doritos/Coca-Cola ad magic. Chevrolet won my vote for the two best of last year:
As long as I have a broadcast of the game, commercials and all, the only other essential I need for a perfect night of sports is some good ol’ American food. Because let’s be honest, the real reason watching the Superbowl is so much fun is because it is a no-guilt excuse to eat greasy, yummy food! Unfortunately, the grocery stores in Tilburg are severely lacking in this type of grub. There are no pizza rolls, no ranch dips, and worst of all, no BBQ chips! What does a girl have to do to get some BBQ Lays’ around here?! The closest thing I could find was “barbeque ham” flavor….yeah, the Dutch have strange tastes sometimes. Other contenders in the Dutch supermarket “weirdest chip flavor sweepstakes” included “bolognese”, “Mexican peppers and cream”, and “cucumber and goats”. Some part of me wonders what cucumber and goats taste like, but I decided to pass on that culinary experience for now in favor of the barbeque ham that I hope will taste as good as the chips back in the U.S. (Update: I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. The taste is closer to a chip version of lunchmeat than to barbeque; however, they are surprisingly not terrible).
If all of this doesn’t get you as excited for the Superbowl as I am, then you may be hopeless (or maybe just European). Just in case you’re not quite convinced about the pure awesome-ness of this day, I will leave you with these Superbowl trivia facts. At least you can impress your friends who do care!
- The Superbowl is the 2nd largest day of food consumption in the U.S. after Thanksgiving. Over 1 billion chicken wings are consumed during the game.
- The Monday after Superbowl Sunday is the single most missed day of work in the U.S. Almost 7 million people call in sick every year. That is approx. 5-6% of the U.S. workforce!
- In the entire Superbowl history, not a single game has gone into overtime.
Happy Superbowl Sunday!