The Case Against Super Bowl Parties

A Reluctant Polemic

By Sam Eichner ·
David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Super Bowl is about sitting, eating and drinking, and, most critically, eating and drinking at the same time, while sitting. It is also about football and prop bets and jingoistic commercials and, if we have to go there, much-ballyhooed pop music extravaganzas. Summarily, it is about America.

Here, though, is what the Super Bowl is not about: it is not about making small talk with coworkers. It is not about ingratiating yourself with your friend’s Hinge date, who by all estimations won’t be around for the next Super Bowl. It is not about making drinks for other people, unless those drinks happen to be beer, or those people happen to have brought over a particularly zesty buffalo chicken dip. It is not about “networking.” It is not about “dressing to impress.” It is not about “trying to get that girl’s number.” And it is certainly, under absolutely no circumstances, about standing up—or, to be more specific, about not having a comfortable place to sit down.

The Super Bowl party is a storied tradition, presumably as old as the Super Bowl itself. Indeed, since 1967, people have been inviting other people over to their homes to watch two armies of muscular men throw and catch and kick a pigskin and hit each other with great velocity. We hoot; we holler; we spill shit on the couch and look around like we didn’t. Yet as with many such traditions, the reason we still do it goes unquestioned. It becomes a vague and irrelevant abstraction. We have Super Bowl parties because we have Super Bowl parties.

But when you think about it—and, as you may’ve surmised, I have thought about it, probably too much—the Super Bowl party is somewhat antithetical to the aspects of the Super Bowl we most enjoy. Particularly amidst the turmoil of our current political moment, when “self-care”—which the culture-writ-large oft conflates with “staying at home and watching TV”—is at a premium, the Super Bowl party reveals itself as being at odds with what’s really important about that first Sunday in February.

If your team is in the Super Bowl, that’s one thing. Not being the most spirited fan, I don’t get it, but I get it. There’s a real cause for celebration. And, to be clear, I’m not railing against a “gathering”; by all means, invite a few friends over, buy a half-keg, cook some appetizers. What I’m advocating against—delicately, if dumbly—is the full-on party, which I’ll qualify as a situation wherein a) you were required to promptly RSVP to an e-vite; b) you wouldn’t be comfortable wearing your boxers in front of 75% of the people present; c) you may not have a prime seat on the couch; and d) you feel obligated to make polite conversation.

Because just as Thanksgiving isn't built for charged political debates, the Super Bowl isn’t built for socializing. On the contrary, it’s built for staying home with a few people in front of whom you can stand to be a giant fucking buffalo wing-slathered Keystone Light monster, cocooned under a weighted blanket or sweatpants—and not the cool athleisure kind. It’s built for getting drunk on a Sunday in the comfort of your own home, and not feeling self-conscious about it, because it’s the fucking Super Bowl goddammit. It’s built for inertia, not speed. It’s the only day of the year we're actively encouraged to feel good about staying home, sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing; it's a national liminal event for sloth-like, agenda-less behavior, one that’s more necessary now than ever.

So, this weekend, go forth (though not far). Ignore those Facebook invites. Don't check your phone. Prepare your delivery order. And gather your loved ones close.

But only if they're bringing beer. 

Sam Eichner

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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