“Explain to Me This Football Thing.”
It wasn’t until I sunk into a red beanbag chair in the Fogelson Library Feb. 5, that I realized I might have made a mistake in signing up to cover the SFUAD Super Bowl party. In an email sent out to students, Campus Life Coordinator Malcom Morgan encouraged students to wear their favorite football gear in order to win a prize for “best team spirit.” I do not own any American football gear. I turned up to the event sporting an AFC Wimbledon scarf from the small League One English football (I refuse to call it soccer) team and pirates vs ninjas T-shirt. It was clear from the get go, this was not my usual Sunday activity. For many SFUAD students, however, Sunday means football and for New England Patriot and Atlanta Falcon fans, this Sunday meant everything.
Alex Keuhn, dawning an impressively vibrant Broncos suit for which he won the team spirit award, has been a football fan his entire life. “My dad has been a Bronco fan since he was 10. I was kind of raised into it,” he said. While his team wasn’t playing, he explained that he was still excited to see the game. “I’m here to watch the Patriots lose.” Unfortunately for him and many other football fans, that hope didn’t come to fruition with a score of 34 to 28.
While I understand team rivalry as much as the next sports fan (down with Milton Keynes!*), I didn’t know why so many people seemed to hate the Patriots with such a passion. I decided to ask a few football fans why there was such a distaste for the team and their answers varied. “They’re cheaters,” Keuhn explained to me. From deflation of the football to spying on their opponent’s practice, The Patriots have been accused of cheating for a several years. Contemporary Music Program student Sara Cunningham had a different reason for disliking the Patriots. “Tom Brady is a Trump supporter,” Cunningham said later in the game to dissuade me for cheering for the Patriots earlier in the game when they were trailing The Falcons. While it’s never been confirmed by Brady whether or not he favors Donald Trump, and many Patriot players have refused to visit the White House, the Quarterback did display a “Make America Great Again” cap in his locker. For many football fans, this is enough to denounce him. Needless to say, once Cunningham told me this, I passionately embraced the Falcons. “I thought that would change your mind,” she said with a laugh.
Other students disagreed with the animosity toward the Patriots. “[Patriot haters] are wrong. They’re wrong! All I can say is that they hate us ‘cause they ain’t us. I’m sorry your team and quarterback aren’t as good but that’s what happens… they feel like because we always win we must be cheating,” Sam Smith-Boyle said passionately. The Patriots have now won the Super Bowl five times. They have 351 first downs, 104/277 third down conversions, and 8/12 fourth down conversions (whatever that means.) Smith-Boyle wasn’t alone in the crowd. Patriot jerseys were dawned by many of those who attended the party. Cheers for the team erupted from the audience as the final touchdown was scored. While SFUAD isn’t known for having many sports fans, it seems the campus is divided in the Patriot debate.
Other students, like myself, were more or less indifferent to the event. Sentiments of “Who’s playing?” and “Go Sportsball!” filtered throughout the crowd. Creative Writing and Literature major Kelsey Moghadaspour explained that she “extra didn’t care this year,” because not only did she not consider herself a football fan, her home team the Seahawks weren’t playing. “I’m only here because my girlfriend likes football,” she explained. “And Lady Gaga.” This seemed to be a shared sentiment throughout the party. The number of students started at around 20 people but when Lady Gaga took the stage, the size of the crowd had grown to 40 to 50 people. After the halftime show, the crowd fell again to about 30, a few Gaga fans sticking around for raffles and food.
Overall, the party was a smorgasbord of half avid football fans and half confused Little Monsters. Despite multiple connection issues and a lack of the much sought after Super Bowl commercials, students seemed to have a fun time and despite my palpable confusion and constant questions, I did as well.
*Yes, that is an AFC Wimbledon joke you didn’t get.