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A Guide to Watching the Super Bowl (for People With No Knowledge or Interest in the Super Bowl)

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Last year the Super Bowl attracted roughly 111.3 million viewers. The average Super Bowl viewer is American and alive, so if you fit within these demographics, there's at least a decent chance you will be coaxed into watching the game. This will likely occur either by attending a party, going to a bar or just out of sheer love for moderate to great commercials and bumbling puppies.

For those who will watch the game but won't have any clue about what's going on, here's a basic guide to make your Sunday evening perhaps a bit more interesting.

Who To Root For

The first step to making a sporting event worth watching is to have a remotely vested interest in who wins. This is accomplished by most degenerates via gambling, but considering you aren't well-versed in the sport, placing a bet based strictly on who wins the game probably isn't the best idea.

It's usually more fun to root for the underdog, but in this Super Bowl the teams are quite evenly matched. (The 49ers are slight favorites, but in the same way Argo is a slight favorite to win the Oscar for best picture.) So there are a few arbitrary measures you can use to decide which team to root for:

Which TV show do you prefer: Full House or The Wire?

If you like Full House go with the 49ers, if you prefer The Wire root for the Ravens.

Which writer do you prefer: Jack Kerouac or Edgar Allan Poe?

Kerouac is from the San Francisco-area, while the Ravens team name is actually inspired by Poe's most famous poem. Their mascot is a goofy bird-looking type thing nicknamed "Poe."

Which color do you prefer: red or purple?

As good of a reason as any to choose a team.

Back to the betting thing...

Even if you don't know anything about the game itself, that shouldn't exclude you from gambling on it -- I mean, this is America (Side note: it's completely appropriate to refer to it a 'Merica during the actual contest)! A fun way to keep the game interesting is to participate in prop bets with friends. Prop bets are basically side bets based on peripheral aspects of the game, and often have nothing to do with what's actually going on on the field. You can bet on the length of Alicia Keys' national anthem (over or under two minutes and 15 seconds), how many times the word "Harbaugh" will be said (over or under 20.5 times) and whether Beyonce will be joined on stage by Jay-Z during her halftime performance (No need to bet, if this happens, America wins).

You can find a pretty comprehensive list of possible prop bets to make during the game here.

Things You Can Say During The Game To Appear Like You Know What's Going On
Not watching football regularly, but having the appearance that you do, is one strategy that many non-sports inclined viewers like to adopt for the Super Bowl. I do the same thing when I get dragged to art exhibits ("The shading speaks to me").

If you embark down this path, my suggestions are 1. Keep it brief. 2. Keep it few and far between. The best way to conceal your lack of football knowledge is by concealing your lack of football knowledge. Below I've listed some timely phrases you can use during the game that will make it seem like you keep up with the sport. The good news is that once you say them or bring them up, there's a 95 percent chance you won't be asked to elaborate, as sports fans will gladly jump on more or less any opportunity to expound on their knowledge of a topic to the fullest extent.

"Did you hear about that Ray Lewis thing? Crazy."

There are always many things going on with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis at any given time, and the vast majority are kind of crazy in nature. If you bust this quip out after you hear his name mentioned during the game, it should illicit a response.

"What do you guys think will happen with Alex Smith?"

Alex Smith is the backup quarterback on the 49ers, but for your purposes this doesn't matter. Other people will probably carry the conversation once you bring this up.

"I can't believe Randy Moss said he was the best wide receiver of all-time. He's not even the best 49ers receiver of all-time."

Earlier in the week, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver (he's one of the guys in charge of catching the football) told the media that he believes that he is the greatest wide receiver of all-time. Most casual football fans realize this is blasphemy, as Jerry Rice -- who my grandmother adores from his stint on Dancing With the Stars -- is another wide receiver who played for the 49ers in the '90s and surpasses Randy Moss statistically in every category. Randy Moss claiming he's the best is basically the equivalent of Britney Spears calling herself unequivocally the best pop artist of all-time -- yes, she's had a good career, but everybody knows the topic isn't worthy of debate as the title clearly belongs to Michael Jackson.

"The 49ers are 5-0 in Super Bowls."

This is just a blanket statement. It doesn't really mean anything, so it fits in perfectly with a sports conversation.

"Say what you will about Ray Lewis' career, but Dick Butkus is still the greatest middle linebacker of all-time."

This probably isn't true, but it's not false enough to sound ridiculous. If someone disagrees with you, just repeat "It was a different era" until they stop talking.


If you decide to root for the Ravens, the above quote will make for a solid contribution whenever they score.

"I would have loved to have watched Bill Walsh's offense against the Ravens 2000 defense."

Once again, you don't really need to know what this means, but it will prompt the other sports-savvy guests in the room to respond.

The Only People You Need to Know About

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the 49ers. He's very good at his job and he happens to be a lot of fun to watch on the sidelines because of his flamboyant behavior. He's a good guy to keep an eye on because every now and then he's involved in the most entertaining aspect of the entire game. Although he's only been a head coach in the NFL for two seasons, he's already been involved in a post-game handshake controversy. By my estimation, this is 100 percent more post-game handshake controversies than most NFL head coaches experience throughout their entire careers.


John Harbaugh

John is the coach of the Ravens. He's Jim's brother. He's not as exciting... but he also has trouble with post-game handshakes.


Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick is the quarterback of the 49ers. He's in his second season and he's been really good so far in the playoffs. Most importantly, when he scores a touchdown, he kisses his tattoos on his arms. Before you ask: Yes, the nickname for the celebration is "Kaepernicking," and of course he's filed a trademark for it.

Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis, mentioned earlier, is the Ravens middle linebacker and is the emotional leader of the team. A lot of focus will be on him as he will retire at the end of the game, win or lose. Lewis is perhaps one of the most interesting and divisive figures in the history of football. For a better idea of his history, here's a brief, but good breakdown of his career.

Oh, also, he's a crier.

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco is the quarterback of the Ravens and he's kind of a goofy character. He's been good throughout the playoffs but has had an up-and-down career overall. He's not the most inspiring football player, but why do I need to tell you that when his own Dad already put it so eloquently to the New York Times.

"Joe is dull," Steve Flacco said in a telephone interview. "As dull as he is portrayed in the media, he's that dull. He is dull."

And that should conclude what is a very basic breakdown of stuff to know before you watch the Super Bowl. Have fun, and if worst comes to worst, you can always try to coax everybody to turn on the Puppy Bowl, which, at the very least, should be far more compelling than Joe Flacco.