This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … watching sports in a bar.
It would be fun to talk about how overrated the Super Bowl is, but more often than not we are treated to one hell of a game. Ever since the great Cowboys and 49ers teams stopped making the game a yawnfest by the midway point of the second quarter, the Super Bowl is usually a great game that is decided in the last four minutes.
As for the commercials, even the lame ones turn out to be kind of fun, or at least worthy of some discussion at work on Hangover Monday.
Super Bowl parties might or might not be overrated, but being an unsociable, friendless misanthrope, I can’t speak on that. The invitations no longer come, and even if they did, I know I’d decline.
But what can be overrated, at least when talking Super Bowl, is watching the game in a bar. Okay, watching any big game in a bar is overrated, and there are myriad reasons for this.
I ended up in a bar for the entire Giants-49ers NFC Championship Game. The bar is owned by a former NFL great. The TV set-up surpasses that of any sports bar I’ve ever been in. No matter where you sit, you can watch half a dozen of the more than 30 hi-def flat-screens without having to twist your body or neck. Cool memorabilia covers the walls. The servers are fast and attentive. Bud Lites ran a whopping $2.50 for the entire game. The menu was expansive, the portions huge and the food not terrible.
And it sucked because I seemed to have missed half the game. Watching a big game, regardless of the sport, should be done at home and not in a bar.
There are too many distractions. If your waitress or bartender is even remotely hot, every time you see her (or him, I guess), you get that rapist-stalker tunnel vision thing going, and instead of focusing on Eli Manning’s big third-and-12 pass, you’re eyes are locked into a set of sweet server ass cheeks that are hard enough to play quarters off of. I’m a lifelong Steelers fan, but I guarantee that I’d have missed all of James Harrison’s epic interception return had I been ordering mozzarella sticks and a beer from some poor man’s Jennifer Aniston at Super Sports Bar Emporiama.
Even if your server isn’t hot [see: Last Sunday night], you still have to deal with the constant interruptions to see if you’re “still working on that,” if you “need another round,” if everything is “all right” (you know, as if you’re going to go all gourmand on the poor girl’s ass and complain that the chicken wings are a tad undercooked and the nachos are a bit wanting in the cilantro department) or to see if you’d like the 12-layer Chocolate Thunder to go with that 8th beer.
Another problem is that the other patrons can sometimes be more compelling than the game itself, and that can be true even when the game is a good one. Despite the epic game transpiring on the 37 TVs last week, I was more involved in what was going on at the tables around us. To my left I had the creepy-looking couple with dyed red hair and too much eyeliner. Yes, that includes the male half of the couple. They looked like they had just come from a casting call for World War Z. They were not at all into the game, yet they stayed in a loud sports bar for over three hours. I couldn’t stop watching them. To my right were the strapping high school boy in the Class of 2012 letterman’s jacket and the hot older woman with him who might have been his mother but was more likely some milfish cougar he was banging. One more beer and I know we’d have gone over and asked just the hell their situation was.
And directly ahead of me was the NFL lineman who, after buying megashots for the skanky groupies at his table, made repeated trips to the outdoor patio so that he could autograph their sweet little ass cheeks. It’s hard to pay attention to an Alex Smith screen pass when you hear drunk, dirty blond chicks yelling, “For another hundred dollars you can sign my other ass cheek!” (And they say Terrell Owens is broke. Gee, hard to imagine how that kind of thing can happen after seeing a second-year lineman throwing around c-notes just so he can sign some ass.)
But it’s not just the visual distractions that take you attention away from the game. Having a set of working ears can prove bothersome, too, because every sports bar has those loudmouth know-nothings who can’t resist the urge to broadcast their sports ignorance to everyone within a 20-foot radius of their never-closed mouth. There’s the guy who yells that someone is lining up offsides on every third play. (No flag is ever thrown, making him more indignant with each missed call.) This same guy, if watching hockey, believes every pass is a missed offsides call. If baseball, why, every at-bat is a prime opportunity to go with the hit and run. (This holds true even when the bases are empty.)
And finally, we have the hardcore fans of one of the two teams playing. They sport $400 dollars worth of team garb and come armed with a big right hand ready to do some nonstop high-fiving. Four-yard run off tackle? High five! Good punt coverage? Up high, bro! 32 yard touchdown pass? The high five turns into a prolonged, shaking, clamplike grab, leaving you with shattered hand bones and a possibly separated shoulder.
So whether it’s the Super Bowl or just some first-round Stanley Cup playoff contest, it’s best to stay home to watch any big game. The beers are cheaper, the bathroom less crowded, the ass-signing cheaper (Mrs. Bitters charges just $25 per cheek) and the only idiot yelling offsides is you.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.