Growing Up: Super Bowl Reflections

Sports editor kicks off her weekly column by discussing the Super Bowl

Bridget Kelley

More stories from Bridget Kelley

Can we talk about that Super Bowl for a minute? How do we get three quarters into the Super Bowl without even a touchdown attempt? How did every single play up until that point end in a punt?

This year’s Super Bowl was disappointing in a number of ways. Not only was the game boring as heck, but this was the first Super Bowl that I have spent without my family. I didn’t expect it to seem so weird to be away from them — we don’t usually make a huge deal out of the game, but we do watch it together every year.

During the game, I was cheering, shouting, making calls before the referees did — all the things my dad does when he watches football. This realization made me sad. Not because I’m becoming my father — we all knew this was going to happen eventually — but because I’m several hours away from him and the rest of my family.

Last year, we watched the Super Bowl at our family friends’ house. There was a copious amount of food and a TV in every room. It was wonderful. I loved every part of it. I was full and we dressed up and got excited and it was great.

We’ve done more low-key events too. Sometimes it’s just us watching in our living room, but we’re together and we can laugh at the commercials together. I didn’t realize until this year that the Super Bowl was so important to me. It seemed so wrong to not be in my living room snuggled up on the couch with a plate of buffalo chicken dip and laughing at Doritos commercials with my mom. I missed my dad getting excited about a good play, no matter which team made it. I missed discussing the halftime show in detail with my younger sister.

That’s how it has always been, though. ESPN was always on in our house. When we were in middle school, our Sundays were set aside for basketball games and tournaments. Friday nights in high school meant hairspray, white shoes, pom poms and sore throats for my sister and me, my dad donned his zebra-stripe referee’s uniform and whistle and my mom sat by the radio listening to the play-by-play of the games. After cheer practice during the week, my sister and I would go to what was left of the soccer game before going home for dinner. My mom still schedules her work around my sister’s track meets. Thanksgiving dinner has always been unofficially scheduled around the football game — I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or just de facto, but we always wrapped up lunch right at the beginning of the game. Sports meant it was time for family. It’s how we were raised.

I think that’s the main reason why I didn’t enjoy this Super Bowl as much. I associate sports with my family, and being away from them means that I didn’t get to appreciate the game in the same capacity that I would if we were together.

This semester, I’m going to be taking a look back into how I was raised around sports and how that grants me a greater appreciation for them now by writing this weekly column. Stay tuned to see what I learn about myself and how that works out for me moving forward.

Kelley can be reached at [email protected]