Five Football-Free Alternatives to Super Bowl Sunday

Not a football fan? Neither am I. But in a country where football is more or less a religion, it’s hard to escape the clamor and commotion surrounding the holiest of holy days — Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve managed to circumvent The Big Game for the past few years (one of the perks of attending a women’s college), but now that the Giants have made it to the championship and New York is teeming with football mania, I’ll have to try a lot harder to dodge the Super Bowl bullet. To help me — and you — get through this football-filled festivity, I’ve come up with a few ideas.

1. Puppy Bowl VIII

For more than two hours, beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday February 5, Animal Planet offers the most brilliant solution for those of us who don’t particularly like football, but don’t want the day to go completely uncelebrated: Puppy Bowl. Why watch huge guys in tight pants clobber each other when you can watch adorable puppies frolic about on a mini gridiron? The event presents some of the cutest puppies you’ve ever seen doing ridiculously cute stuff with features like “Puppy Cam” (from the puppy player point of view!) and “Water Bowl Cam.” But not only are these puppies precious gems of cuteness, they are all from shelters, and throughout the show, you can learn how to adopt rescued puppies and help local shelters.

2. Souper Bowl Party

Gather up all your fellow football non-fans and have a “Soup”er Bowl party! Instead of a typical Super Bowl party, where the fare consists mostly of beer and Doritos, cook up a big pot of soup, and whatever else you’d like, too (the soup is necessary only to preserve the pun). Invite your friends over, blissfully ignore the game, and indulge in delicious homemade soup and good company. You could even turn it into a way to do good — a group called Souper Bowl of Caring encourages youth to help “tackle” hunger in their communities. Even though the charity is geared towards teenagers, that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate. Turn your Souper Bowl soup party into a Souper Bowl for Caring soup party by collecting donations from your friends for a local food pantry or soup kitchen.

3. Get Ready for the Oscars

Have you seen all of the movies up for Academy Awards this year? If you have, then I am impressed, but also afraid that this suggestion might not help. The Oscars are three weeks after The Game, and Super Bowl Sunday provides a perfect excuse for you to go out to the movies. Find which Oscar-nominated films are playing in your area and pick the ones that you’ve most wanted to see. Check out Busted Halo’s Movie Minister blog for suggestions from Fr. Jake Martin, SJ. Start with a matinee and make a day of it — it definitely takes more than one movie to pass the Sunday away. Bring your friends along too. Then, when it comes time to watch the Academy Awards, you can have something to talk about when the winners are chosen.

4. Take a Day Trip

Honestly, the best possible way to get away from Super Bowl mania is to get away from people. Use Sunday as a sort of retreat, both from the sports-crazed atmosphere and from your daily life. If you live in the city or suburbs, why not wake up early and drive or take public transportation out into the country? And if you live out in the country, why not reconnect with your bucolic surroundings? Depending on the weather, you can hike, bike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski any consciousness of the Big Game into oblivion. Of course, pack some food with you so you can stop and have a picnic along the way! A couple thermoses of hot cocoa and tea, some sandwiches, and a few candy bars will do the trick.

5. Go To Church

The Super Bowl is, as always, on a Sunday. What else might one typically do on a Sunday? Oh, that’s right — go to church! Does your parish have a Sunday evening Mass? Check it out! Instead of falling prostrate in front of your 70-inch TV screen to worship the gods of Brady or Manning this Sunday, worship the God who really matters.

What alternatives to the Super Bowl would you suggest?