A lesson from the Super Bowl

Published 8:43 pm Monday, February 6, 2012

It always amazes me when lessons come from the least likely of places.

For me that place was from a football game, and that lesson was that judging an activity or group according to stereotypes is unfair.

Let me explain. Since I was a kid, I’ve disliked football in general and the Super Bowl in particular, thanks to a few poor experiences with football fans who, in their boisterous support of their team, had little patience for sharing the intricacies of the rules with me. And let’s not forget that football fans can be more than a little loud.

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So, I shocked my coworkers last week when I announced there was no way I would be watching the Super Bowl this year. Apparently, I work in an office full of football fans. And my reasons for disliking the game were more than a little judgmental.

But I did end up making plans to attend a Super Bowl party. That’s because football fans put out a mean spread for what is the biggest party of the season.

I’ve had the best homemade pizza, the best chili and cornbread and the best wings of my life at various Super Bowl parties. And on Sunday I stuffed myself silly with the best meatball subs and loaded potato skins I’ve had in a long time.

But I had no intention of watching football. In fact, I wasn’t completely sure who was playing or who was supposed to win. In fact, I had only agreed to go to this particular Super Bowl party, because I assumed we’d pretty much only be watching the commercials.

Boy was I wrong — about a few things, as it turned out.

First, my hosts, while being good friends of ours, turned out to be surprise football fans. And they had invited a few other football fans, too. So here I was, in enemy territory, attending a Super Bowl party with football fans. And I had forgotten my aspirin at home.

But these particular fans proved my stereotype wrong. They were no more boisterous than fans of my favorite sport — soccer. They spent most of the game discussing the intricate strategies of the coaches, attempting to explain why certain players were pulled from the game or particular plays were employed. And they were more than happy to share their knowledge of their favorite sport with an outsider.

The teams themselves were so closely matched that no one was really able to predict a winner, and despite my general disapproval for the sport, I found myself moving closer and closer to the edge of my seat as the game progressed.

By the fourth quarter, when the Patriots led the Giants by a mere two points, I was gasping at near misses and leaping to my feet at ridiculous calls. And while I wasn’t always sure what the heck was going on — it is a pretty complicated sport — I have to admit that I had fun.

Has the experience made a football fan out of me? No, not really. But will I be dismissing an entire sport and its legion of fans due to a few poor experiences? Not anymore. And 2012 will also be a year in which I strive to approach every situation without relying on my preconceived notions.

While it might be a whole month late and I know I vowed never to do this again, I guess this my New Year’s resolution.