- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007

Super what?

There’s a culture rising among those who could not care less about tomorrow’s Super Bowl. Just ask Amy McCloskey, owner of Madame X, a Manhattan nightspot that will be the scene of the Ladies-Only Anti-Super Bowl, complete with manicures and psychic romance readings.

“This is our own tiny stadium of girly things. It’s the estrogen answer to Super Bowl testosterone,” Miss McCloskey said. “We’ll feature lots of little attractions for women seeking a pleasant night out. No hordes, no yelling.”

It’s enough to scare most men to death: Aromatherapy, air brush tans, makeovers, chocolate fondue, dainty cocktails. Men, in fact, will not be admitted until 11 p.m., after the game has ended.

But it’s no female rebellion, Miss McCloskey maintains.

“Men and women retain their natural inborn behaviors on Super Bowl Sunday,” she said. “The girls prepare all the eats, then go in the kitchen for good gossip. The boys whoop it up in the den. Now, I’d call that two separate parties.”

Not all women look askance at the Super Bowl. Last year, 35 million watched the game — about a third of the total American audience, according to the Nielsen Co. Sentiment also varies among female fans, according to a Scarborough Sports Marketing analysis, which found that 59 percent of Indianapolis women are Colts fans, versus 46 percent of Chicago women who actively root for the Bears.

Unhappy football widows seem few and far between these days. The Mano Yarn Center in Los Angeles, for example, is happily staging an Anti-Super Bowl Knit-Out and potluck dinner guaranteed to be football-free. Anchorage-based Alaska Ski for Women has organized an elaborate, costumed day of female-only skiing, which also serves as major fundraiser for local children’s charities.

Anti-Super Bowl parties for the football fatigued have become so common that information Web sites such as About.com now offer menu and activity suggestions to hosts who want to serve elegant bruschetta and perhaps break out the old movies or classical music.

In Chesterton, Ind. — about 50 miles east of Chicago — Judy Mervine has lined up a mother lode of wine, cheese, fresh grapes, spring water and fine chocolates for her third annual “Wild and Wonderful Anti-Super Bowl Celebration,” staged in Glad Rags, a clothing shop.

“Hundreds of women come, and yes, a man or two. It is our biggest day of the year,” Mrs. Mervine said. “Maybe guys want to sit around all day in front of the TV. But no woman wants to do that. This is a celebration for women who will order hubby his pizza or set out the goodies, then tell him she has to leave on a fashion emergency.”

Women can also simply watch something else. Super Bowl “counterprogramming” is a promising niche market for canny cable channels.

Lifetime Television, for example, has advised viewers to tune in “for an alternative to the boring football game. You can finally stop pretending you know which teams are actually playing.” The network is offering a 12-hour romance movie marathon. Cable’s Animal Planet channel plans to air “Puppy Bowl III,” showcasing adoptable shelter dogs, complete with a “Kitty Half-Time Show” for cat lovers.

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