- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007

It is the revenge of the Stupor Bowl, perhaps. A portion of the American population will not be watching the big game today.

They are Super Bowl challenged, Super Bowl clueless. Many are just plain Super Bowl oblivious.

They do not know that in a few hours, the nation will be knee-deep in chili and Buffalo wings and chocolate cakes shaped like footballs. They do not comprehend the hoopla over giant linesmen; the halftime show escapes them entirely. They are clueless about sports announcers who make solemn pronouncements about “the halfback pass,” and they puzzle over whirling special effects that confine the actual game to about a third of the television screen.

Ask them who’s playing, and they stare off into space and say, “Uh-h-h, Joe Namath?”

Oh, the anti-Super population means no harm. They just don’t understand, for example, how fans can sit for hours on end in front of their TVs, screaming, eating and either jumping out of or falling off of their Barcaloungers. The anti-Supers have a point.

This year, CBS — covering the event for the first time since singer Janet Jackson had issues with her foundation undergarments during halftime in 2004 — will offer about 20 hours of programming, pre-programming and after-programming. But that’s nothing compared to ESPN, which is offering 91 hours, and the NFL Channel, which is offering 60.

It is endless. CBS Sportsline writer Larry Dubrow delivered an editorial this week titled “Ten Super Bowl storylines you’ll be sick of hearing,” observing that even die-hards will be tired of comparisons between the 2006 Bears and the 1985 Bears, for example. Everybody probably will be weary of hearing that advertisers spent $87,000 per second for their commercials today, too.

And while there is much analytical ado about the 90 million viewers who will tune in to the Super Bowl with great enthusiasm, there has been some modest research about those who won’t.

According to a poll of about 800 adults conducted two years ago by Fairleigh Dickenson University, 1 in 5 Americans won’t watch the Super Bowl. They are the “absolutely not” crowd eager to go into denial about the game, football, Barcaloungers and fatty foods and are right proud of it.

“Yeah, well, the dog doesn’t know it, but he’s getting a bath today. With the flea stuff. That’s going to be my Super Bowl,” said one vehement friend, who planned to eat a chef’s salad and feel good about herself while everyone else devolved into a mess of heartburn and guttural outcry.

The Fairleigh Dickenson poll does acknowledge the “social fan,” though — about 40 percent of the nation’s population — who sort of watch the game, just to be nice, but feel liberated enough to skip both the pre- and post-game shows, not to mention halftime.

Insight Express, a Connecticut-based research group, also polled 500 people and found that 54 percent planned to watch the game.

The rest?

They had other notions about “alternate Super Bowl activities.” Almost half planned to dine out at a restaurant that did not televise the game.

All the lifestyle and movie channels also offer fare for the football-free. The Hallmark Channel, for example, proudly trumpets its programming this year as ideal for viewers “who don’t know a goal post from a sign post.”

There are some who are taking the notion very seriously indeed. For the third year in a row, Madame X, a chichi red-upholstered Manhattan bar, is staging the Anti-Super Bowl Vamp Up, advising patrons: “We cordially invite you not to watch the Super Bowl. … Gentlemen will not be admitted before 10 p.m.”

It’s a girls-only affair featuring makeovers, manicures, massages, readings from romantic novels, chocolate and champagne-laced cocktails with names like Indecent Proposal and Paradise Found.

Yeah, sure, OK. Here at the Old Biddies Desk, however, all the girlies advise that anyone, male or female, who is mystified by the Super Bowl can use game time for good. Here are 10 suggestions:

Call your mother. (She’s probably not watching, either.) Prowl around the hardware store (deserted). Paint the guest room. Wash the dog(s).

Sneak upstairs and watch A.) “The Quiet Man,” B.) “Night at the Opera” or C.) “Plan 9 From Outer Space” on DVD.

Fiddle with the family tree. (Such Web sites as www.archives.gov, www. ancestry.com and www. jewishgen.org are all splendid resources.)

Organize family photos. Make bread. Change the furnace filter.

Start on the taxes. (Think how impressed everyone will be to know that while they were falling out of the Barcalounger, you were conquering the W-2s and being all mature and productive.)

And of course, there is the game. There will be chili and ranch dip and the cake shaped like a football, most likely with vanilla-flavored laces. And it is a chance to know exactly where spouse/child/significant other/familial rival is, for hours on end.

The Old Biddies Desk hereby grants you clearance to sit in on things, strictly as a monitor, of course. And, uh, be sure to bring us a plate. Thanks.

Jennifer Harper covers media, politics and Joe Namath for The Washington Times national desk. Contact her at jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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