Saturday, February 1, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Minority View

by Peggy Robin

I read in the paper this morning that I am part of a minority group, the 24.6 percent of us who will not be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. (This statistic was in the Washington Post, Feb. 1, 2014, page A9, but I could not pull up the online link for it by using the Post search box. Well, that is a problem for another column, perhaps.) I have a few thoughts about being a member of this not-quite-mainstream portion of the population.

I believe --based on nothing more than my own anecdotal experiences with others like me-- that we non-football-viewers tend to split into two broad categories:

1) Those who don’t watch but don’t let on that they don’t. So when the discussion turns to the Super Bowl, either before or after the fact, they will gamely try to join in, perhaps expressing enthusiasm for one team or the other, and may even to pretend to have seen the action that everyone else seems to be so pumped up about; and

2) Those who admit --or proudly profess-- their total lack of interest and perhaps even disdain for the game.

Among the second category --the people who feel no need to feign interest in a sport that does not, in fact, interest them-- I sense a breakdown into yet two more categories:

1) Second-generation American football non-fans -- that is, those who grew up in non-football-watching families; and

2) First-generation Americans or foreign nationals who come from cultures or parts of the world where the word “football” means soccer. These may be huge sports fans when it comes to their own favorite footballers, but they just don’t get why anyone would want to watch a game that averages about 11 minutes in which the ball is actually in play. (See The Wall Street Journal,  In soccer the ball is in play practically all the time. Of course the score can easily be 0-0 at the end of all that constant action…but then every sport has its downside.

So what does Super Bowl Sunday mean to you if you are not a part of the vast majority that will be glued to a TV screen tomorrow evening? My own strategy has long been to pick a trendy new restaurant, perhaps one that doesn’t take reservations and usually has a long line, and spend the evening with others who prefer good food to sport.

On this particular Super Bowl Sunday, you have two other choices that you seldom get in other years:

1) It’s Groundhog Day! You can celebrate it all day and all evening long, by watching an endless loop of the Bill Murray movie of the same name; and

2) It’s Chinese New Year! You can watch the parade on Sunday starting at 2 PM in Chinatown at Sixth and I Streets, ending at 4:30. The Super Bowl doesn’t start until 6:30 but by then you should be enjoying a lavish New Year’s banquet with multiple courses, and if you haven’t already done so, you should clean your house thoroughly and decorate it for the Year of the Horse, and write a few poems to welcome the new year. That should keep you busy!

Now for the 75 percent of you who love football, by all means, go to it! I will leave you with this thought, expressed by the character of Miss Jean Brodie as played to perfection by Maggie Smith in the 1969 movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: “For those who like that sort of thing…that is the sort of thing they like.”


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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