The Thresher’s Guide to the Perfect Super Bowl Party
This upcoming Sunday marks one of America’s most anticipated events of the year: the Super Bowl. The NFL’s two conference champions face off as the AFC champion New England Patriots take on the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. According to Nielsen Media Research, which measures television viewership, the Super Bowl has been watched by more than 100 million people each year since 2010.
People often host parties for the big game with a large group of friends and family. In fact, I have thrown a Super Bowl party every year since I was in first grade, so I know a thing a or two when it comes to optimal viewing of the biggest sporting event our country has to offer. So, whether you’re watching in your dorm room with a couple of friends or your residential college is having a party in the commons, here are my tips for a good Super Bowl viewing experience, from food to games to information for the casual fan.
The Super Bowl starts at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Patriots have been one of America’s most dominant sports franchises of this century. Led by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, New England has won five Super Bowls in nine total appearances since 2001. The Rams’ last championship appearance and victory came in Super Bowl XXXIV, when the team was located in St. Louis. L.A.’s current head coach, Sean McVay, 33, would become the youngest head coach in the history of the league to win a Super Bowl if his team wins on Sunday.
Los Angeles features Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, arguably the best running back and defensive lineman in the league, respectively. The Patriots are slightly favored in the game (current betting odds favor them by two and a half points) due in large part to their vast Super Bowl experience, but because both teams are loaded with talent, any outcome is possible.
Only on Thanksgiving do Americans consume more food than they do on Super Bowl Sunday according to United States Department of Agriculture statistics. It’s crucial to have a good mix of snacks, hot food and dessert. While it’s always nice to have some of the classics like pizza and chicken wings, it can be nice to change things up, too.
Pulled pork, a barbecue staple, is a relatively easy meat to cook and is very forgiving. Put the pork in a slow cooker or in the oven and when it’s ready, shred it with a couple of forks. Make the meal easy to eat by putting the pork on buns and serving it as sliders.
Turkey chili is a hearty dish that you can easily make in bulk. Throw your ingredients into a skillet and cook until it’s thick. Enjoy the many different textures that chili has to offer and spice it to your liking.
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with some football-shaped cookies. If you’re creative, write the names of the two teams in frosting on separate cookies and have your friends eat who they think will win.
Some people like to have a little extra incentive while they watch the game. For those people, there are some ways that you can make some friendly wagers even if you are not rooting for either team. And if you don’t understand football at all, keep your eyes glued to the screen for the best, funniest and most expensive (upwards of $5 million for 30 seconds, according to Sports Illustrated) television commercials of the year.
Super Bowl Squares is a game that doesn’t require any real football knowledge. The game is based around a grid of 100 squares with the digits 0-9 written on x- and y-axes. The two axes represent the two teams playing and the digits represent the last digit of the number of points that the team has scored. A player purchases a place in the competition and before the game, the organizers randomly assign a square. If at the end of the game (and/or quarters) your square has the correct digit for each team, you win. For example, if you had the square that was seven for the Patriots and one for the Rams and the score was 27-21 Patriots, you would win.
Prop bets are questions about events that will or might happen during the game. Organizers put a series of these questions together and host a competition to see who can answer the most correctly. Questions that show up every year include (but are not limited to): Will the coin toss be heads or tails? What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning head coach? Who will be the Super Bowl MVP? Some are football-specific and some require no football knowledge whatsoever. Get most of them correct, and you could have bragging rights over your friends.
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Jackson Tyner is a senior at Rice with five seasons of Division I sports experience: three years as a quarterback for football and two years as a pitcher for baseball.