Having fun at your Super Bowl party is not a right, it's a privilege—a privilege bestowed on the properly prepared. If you wear your Bart Starr vintage jersey to a party filled with loud, lubricated Steelers fans, you might leave the place with a cheesehead—not the foam type favored by Packers fans, but the nacho type that will drip down into your eyes. To avoid any untoward situations, we suggest you adhere to our rules for attending and hosting a Super Bowl party.
Rule No. 1 for a Guest: Know What You're Getting Yourself Into.
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Are you a Packers fan? Then you probably don't want to watch the Super Bowl at a Steelers bar. Are you less interested in the game and more interested in the commercials? Then you probably don't want to watch the game at a party rife with diehard fans, as they're likely to spend commercial breaks discussing developments in the game. It's easy to say that people should be respectful of your right to hear and critique every Bud Light commercial, but the reality is that football fans + alcohol + the championship game = passionate feelings and the propensity to talk over everything. If you ever say, "Shush, I'm trying to watch the commercials," you're gambling with your life.
Rule No. 2 for a Guest: Call ahead and ask if you can bring something.
Some hosts will politely decline your offer to bring fruitcake or absinthe. That's their right. But most hosts are wise enough to mention that, yes, a bottle of wine would be very much appreciated. No matter what, you should not show up empty-handed. And no, your cheesehead does not count, unless of course it's edible.
Rule No. 3 for a Guest: Wear clean socks.
It's the middle of winter and snow is covering most of the lower 48 states. There's a good chance you're going to be hoofing it through the white stuff on the way to your Super Bowl party. If your destination is a bar, that's not a problem, since most establishments won't ask you to take off your shoes to avoid tracking dirt and water. But will the host of a house party? You never know, so it's best to be safe and wear clean socks devoid of holes. After all, you don't want to feel self-conscious about substandard socks, especially if you're already wearing face paint.
Rule No. 4 for a Guest: Do not ask people to explain football to you during the game.
My wife, bless her heart, enjoys many sports, but football is not one of them. She's never taken an interest in the game and does not understand it. Suffice to say she's not going to pick the Super Bowl to ask me to explain the finer points of the West Coast offense—and neither should you. Would you ask someone to explain the Electoral College to you on Election Night? Oh you would, huh? Well that's just dirty pool.
Rule No. 5 for a Guest: If possible, leave your kids at home with a babysitter.
If your child is mature enough to sit still, watch the game, and abstain from peppering adults with questions about the rules for pass interference, then by all means bring him along. If not, arrange for a babysitter.
Rule No. 6 for a Guest: Remember you weren't hired to be a commentator for the big game.
One of the chief pleasures of watching a sporting event is bantering with others about the action on the field. But at a Super Bowl party, the number of people contributing their two cents can be overwhelming. As much as possible, keep your perceived insights and commentary to a minimum, because no one wants to listen to a know-it-all. As Howard Cosell once noted (or perhaps it was Epictetus), "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."
Whether your guests are diehard fans who'll watch every second of the game or they're more interested in taking in the commercials or the halftime show, they share one thing in common: They are going to be staring at your television for upwards of four hours. And if your 18-inch television reminds them that they have a bigger set in their kitchenette, they are going to be distracted and less likely to enjoy the festivities. Ergo, do not volunteer to host a Super Bowl party if the size of your television pales in comparison with someone else in your social circle.
Rule No. 2 for a Host: If you're a fan of one of the participating teams, be respectful of people who might be rooting against them.
Are you a Steelers fan? Are you going to start cursing and stomping if things don't go their way? If so, you probably should not invite any Green Bay fans to your party, as they have every right to celebrate when something good happens for their team. They even have the right to wear a cheesehead, as such accoutrements are all in good fun. If they show up in face paint, that's a judgment call on whether to admit them to the premises, because face paint is a little creepy at the stadium and way creepy in your living room.
Rule No. 3 for a Host: Don't drink too much.
You might think that having a party at your house gives you a free pass to indulge ("Hey, I'm not driving!"), but you're responsible for attending to the needs of others, and that can get tricky if you've had more Mountain Dews than all your guests combined. A hyperactive host is an ugly host, so pace yourself.
Rule No. 4 for a Host: Have a wide selection of food and drinks.
Moreover, make sure you have plenty of water, coffee and soda on hand. Guests won't all be drinking alcohol throughout the game, thanks largely to our nation's inexplicable failure to make the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday.
Rule No. 5 for a Host: Set up a kids' area.
Some hosts ask that guests leave their children at home for a Super Bowl party, but that's not always a reasonable request. So set aside an area (ideally equipped with a television, a DVD player and a stack of movies) for little ones to enjoy. Remove all breakable objects from the room.
Rule No. 7 for a Host: Let people gamble.
Yes, we recognize that gambling is illegal in most states. But that hasn't curbed the proliferation of NCAA tournament office pools, and it shouldn't keep you from wagering small amounts of money on the Super Bowl. Do you know how to create dollar boxes? It's simple and here's a detailed explanation. At base you need a piece of cardboard, a pen and enough people to pool together $100— less if you want the boxes to be sold for, say, 50 cents. If the game is boring or a blowout, a little side action keeps guests upbeat and involved. It can even be a consolation prize for that super fan whose team is losing. Be sure to report all winnings on your income tax return.