MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

Do they still have Super Bowl parties out there, even when there are no regional teams involved in the big game?

The Super Bowl is Sunday – Super Bowl 56, in fact: Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams.

Yes, the game is being played on the Rams’ home field. The Rams were 4.5-point favorites last I looked, and the over-under is 48.5, which I find interesting. In this day and age of #NFLTheTVShow, that’s not many points, which would seemingly bode very well for the Rams. But enough about the game. At least for now …

In one form or another – with one eye or another – I’ve seen every Super Bowl, but I’m far from being alone there. There are folks out there who have been to all of them, most of them, some of them, or who have driven by the stadium the day before it was going to be played.

I have never done any of that. I have no desire to attend a Super Bowl. I’d rather watch it on TV for a lot of reasons, beginning with the NFL having been so tailored for television through the years. And you know what? They’ve done a pretty good job of it, too.

Me? Unless my team is playing in the game, I’m in it for the Super Bowl boards, the commercials and for the parties. Super Bowl Sunday, after all, is our country’s largest and most gluttonous unofficial national holiday (See Fall of the Roman Empire).

The first Super Bowl party I remember came on the day of Super Bowl 3, and since the Baltimore Colts were involved it was a pretty big deal, since nearly everybody in our area then was a Baltimore Colts fan.

I was pumped because I was in the fourth grade and the old man had invited all of his friends from the VFW over to the house to watch the Super Bowl. The day ended very badly – first because of the game, which was a farce, and then because of the old man’s Super Bowl party, because all of those guys I grew up looking up to were Colts fans and most of them left (and left angry) before the game was even over.

The second Super Bowl party I remember came two years later, and it involved the Baltimore Colts once more, this time as a member of the AFC (the NFL Colts losing to the AFL Jets two years earlier made the NFL-AFL merger all but a sure thing, but we won’t get into that today), and our Colts played the NFC champion Dallas Cowboys (before they had been around long enough for good and decent people in their right minds to begin to despise them).

Long story short? That Super Bowl party was not a Super Bowl party at all; it was a birthday party at White Oak Bowling Lanes for our sixth-grade classmate Robin Lewis, and my lifelong pal, Kevin Royce, and I were unjustly forced by our respective parents to attend.

Don’t misunderstand, we both love Robin, and neither Kevin nor I ever minded the notion of spending a day in a bowling alley. Pretty cool notion, actually, particularly for a sixth-grader … but not on Super Bowl Sunday when the Baltimore Colts were playing.

So Kevin and I very maturely explained this to our parents and informed them that while we appreciated the invitation to Robin’s birthday party, we both would respectfully decline, wish her the best on her big day, and then go to one of our houses to watch the Super Bowl.

To make a long story shorter, Kevin and I attended Robin’s birthday party at the bowling center, and, though our parents took the time to listen to our explanations as to why we would not be attending the party, it didn’t take either set of our parents long to not so respectfully inform both of us that, yes, we would be attending Robin’s birthday bowling party, and that we would be attending it together … on the day the Baltimore Colts played in the Super Bowl.

Kevin and I came to the fast conclusion that our parents just didn’t understand guys like us. Yet we did recognize with great clarity that they were in charge of guys like us – two, in particular. So what were we supposed to say … No?

The good news? We got home just after the third quarter started and the Colts beat Dallas, 16-13, on a final-seconds field goal by Jim O’Brien to win the Super Bowl and join the Baltimore Orioles as 1970 season world champions.

Thus, all’s well that ends well. It just didn’t seem like it at the time.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT