ValueSpeak - A Weekly Column by Joseph Walker


At our house there are basically three classifications of Super Bowl party attendees.

First are those who are actually interested in the game.  In a sad bit of irony, it is generally true that those who are most interested in the Super Bowl game are the least interesting – and generally, most obnoxious – people at the Super Bowl party.  These are the ones who whine about referee calls, or who shush those who have the audacity to chat during the 13th replay of a two-yard run, or who loudly and disruptively speak pigskin-babble to each other (“Ya know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone blitz out of the nickel package with an inside linebacker in zone coverage against a spread formation with a left-handed H-back sprinting out to the right”) while everyone else is trying to listen to a talking baby pitch an online stock trading service.

The second classification of Super Bowl revelers at our house is those who are primarily interested in watching the incredibly expensive – and sometimes incredibly entertaining – Super Bowl television commercials.  These folks seem to be only marginally aware that there is a football game going on – they talk, laugh, eat and generally socialize while sports history is being made on the big screen in front of them.  But their attention is riveted to the screen during the commercial breaks. They are so ready to be entertained by the commercials that they usually laugh uproariously at things that are only vaguely funny. And as the new football champion is crowned they usually lament that this year’s ads weren’t as good as last year’s, and there hasn’t been a truly great Super Bowl commercial since the Mean Joe Greene Coke ad, anyway.

 And finally there are those who are there for the food. There is nothing quite like Super Bowl food – and for that our arteries and organs are profoundly thankful. Pizza, nachos, wings, burgers, potato skins, chili dogs, Swedish meatballs – stop me if I mention anything that is in any way healthy – ribs, mozzarella sticks, sloppy Joes and this year’s favorite (in honor of the Green Bay Packers): brats, will all be consumed in mind-boggling and cholesterol-inflating quantities.

And then at halftime we’ll all bring out the desserts.  My loving daughter, Amy, tells me she’s planning a dessert for our party that involves Twinkies, cookies, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries, and she assures me it won’t kill me (although I have a hunch my glucometer will tell me otherwise).

 So that’s what you’ll see at our house on Super Bowl Sunday . . . I mean, besides the game.  We’ll go to church first, but then we’ll take our places in the living room and assume our roles as game watchers, commercial critics and eaters – or some combination of the three.

And then there’s my wife, Anita.  She’ll be there, but she’ll be occupying her own classification all by herself. Truth be told, if she had her way there would be no football on our TV on any Sunday – including the Super one.  Not that she’s opposed to football.  She’s a big fan of our local college team, and enjoys attending Saturday games or watching them on TV.  It’s just that she’s of the opinion that Sundays should be devoted to more pious pursuits, and she prefers the gentle sound of hymns and religious music to the blowing of whistles, the cheering of fans and the clatter of the TV remote being thrown against the wall when the wrong team scores.

So we’ve struck a compromise. The boys and I can watch the game on TV, but we leave the sound down so she can listen to her Sunday music. For the most part it works well, although it does occasionally present some interesting juxtapositions (there’s something almost spiritual about watching a wide receiver do his touchdown dance to the strains of “How Great Thou Art”).

But on Super Sunday, with family members gathering to do the things people in the above named classifications do, our compromise doesn’t really work. So Anita smiles, prepares all kinds of food she doesn’t really care for (she’s more of a baked chicken and asparagus kind of gal) and sits there with family and bravely endures what the rest of us enjoy.

When I asked her why she doesn’t just go to another part of the house to savor a little Sunday serenity, she smiled and shook her head. “I don’t care about the football or the commercials,” she said, “but I do care about spending time with the people I love.”

Her words brought to mind the number of times I manage to disappear when the rest of the family is playing a game that I’m not particularly fond of.  Or the times I head downstairs to watch sports when my granddaughter Sami is watching cartoons upstairs. Or the times I’ve come up with projects that needed my attention when everyone else in the family was going to a movie in which I had no real interest.  Anita’s example underscored this profound truth: what families do together doesn’t matter nearly as much as the simple fact that they do it TOGETHER.

Even if that happens to put one of you in a classification by yourself.

— © Joseph Walker

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Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

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