Taking part in an American tradition

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Just a few days ago, the BBC estimated that one hundred million Americans, roughly one-third of our country’s population, will tune in to the Super Bowl this Sunday. 

A fairly unfathomable number, one hundred million probably constitutes the largest amount of Americans that will ever simultaneously participate in any one act during our lifetime.  Even more difficult to imagine, however, is the number two hundred million—two thirds of the country—which represents all of those subversive folk who will abstain from this national tradition.

This staggering figure raises an important question: What else could they possibly be doing?

To be fair, let us assume that one of these thirds has a perfectly good excuse—perhaps they cannot afford to watch the Super Bowl. Or maybe they were finagled into taking the Bowl shift at work and are grumpily counting down the minutes until they can rush home and catch the last of the notorious commercials. With malice towards none, we the football-watching portion of the population forgive those with legitimate reasons for their absence. 
However, to the wily third of troublemakers who dare to be different, I send both admiration and scorn.

I am obliged to confess the truth, despite its sure ability to undermine my ethos: I hate watching televised football. While I love seeing games in the flesh, I cannot think of a more boring way to spend an afternoon than being sandwiched on a couch between shouting friends and family, my poorly-chosen seat far too removed from the coveted bowl of guacamole. In short, I hate being subjected to all of the brutish horrors that are the unavoidable result of being around those who actually care about the outcome of the game. 

However, my distaste for football watching is outweighed by my love for tradition, and few American holidays are as simple and yet tradition-filled as Super Bowl Sunday. 

Which leads me to ask again: What is that other third up to on Super Bowl Sunday?  I have heard whispers of anti-Super Bowl parties floating around the various counter-establishment crowds; such non-conformist activism at least puts forth a good effort.  But what about those who spend their precious hours caught up in a Lifetime movie or glued to another cake-decorating competition on the Food Network?  Have they no sense of ownership for our own American culture, for better or for worse?

Alas, I can only be honest with myself. Perhaps, after all, the root of my judgment lies in my own secret and jealous wish that I, too, could be curled up in my pajamas enjoying another made-for-TV version of a Danielle Steele novel instead of being trapped by a tradition that refuses to die.

Rebecca Quinn is a junior art history, Spanish, and French triple major. She can be reached for comment at rquinn@smu.edu.

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