The 46th Super Bowl in the history of the National Football League takes place on Sunday night. If you're saying "duh," then please feel free to move on to another corner of the Internet. If you're saying, "Is that the thing with the dogs?" then please keep reading.
What is the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game for the NFL. It pairs rampant American consumerism and gluttony with a nearly murderous contact sport so that We can be entertained and They can make money. It's a very fair arrangement that has worked seamlessly for more than 46 years—excluding that one time that half of America was briefly subjected to the horrors of a bare nipple on national television, which likely ruined the hearts and minds of an entire generation.
Ugh, whatever; shut up. What time does the Super Bowl start?
I don't care what time it starts because football is boring and/or nothing but a terrifying public stage for the gradual destruction of men's brains. Who's doing the national anthem this year?
And the halftime show?
Madonna. She'll probably bring out Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. to perform her new single.
That's weird, because Madonna is ancient. What time is her halftime show?
To be on the safe side, flip on over to NBC at about 7:45. A warning: Super Bowl halftime shows are, traditionally, like a bad dream. They contain all of the production and flashing lights of every Lady Gaga show ever combined at once, and they usually ship fake screaming fans in to the center of the field to wave signs provided by a PR firm and to appear as if they're teen girls at a Justin Bieber show. It's a matter of taste, of course: Last year, the Black Eyed Peas performed. Most of America sat in gape-mouthed horror at the spectacle, but Martha Stewart loved it.
Who is playing in this thing?
The New England Patriots are playing the New York Giants.
Those words mean nothing to me.
You are being kind of harsh.
The Patriots are a team based out of Foxboro, Mass. They are led by their dreamy quarterback Tom Brady, who is famous for being handsome and good at football (he's won three Super Bowls in his career) and for being married to a supermodel (Gisele Bundchen). All of the charm that Brady has, however, is sucked up dry by his imperious and humorless coach, Bill Belichick. Belichick is a scary genius who sometimes cheats and never smiles.
The Giants represent New York but play in East Rutherford, N.J. Their quarterback, Eli Manning, is very good at his job but often makes faces that open him up to ridicule because he happens to look younger than his 31 years. Eli is younger brother to Peyton, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, and son to Archie, a former NFL quarterback himself. (There is a third Manning brother but we are never to speak of the third Manning brother.) The Giants are coached by Tom Coughlin, who is inoffensive because he is boring. Don't worry about Tom Coughlin.
Do I have to watch? Can you just tell me what's going to happen?
You could miss A Really Great Game and The Joy Of Watching A Sporting Event With Friends—two key American pastimes—but it's up to you. Here's my pitch: These teams last met in the Super Bowl in 2008, and it was awesome. The Giants were down 14-10 with just a few minutes to play, and Manning led them to a game-winning drive that included one of the most incredible (or heart-breaking, depending on your perspective) catches in NFL history, when David Tyree pinned the football against his helmet and somehow held on. New York won, 17-14, and the rivalry's continued to this day. This is football's version of Yankees-Red Sox, only you get to eat wings and nachos while watching instead of peanuts. Everybody wins! But you'll have to watch to find out who literally wins.
What if I don't understand anything about this stupid sport?
That's OK! As with anything in life, you can fake it.
What's the best way to deal with this outrageously consumerist and violent event that all of America seems to embrace without even a single critical thought?
Get drunk. Definitely just get drunk.
Image by Jim Cooke.