The Titans and Saints have yet to play their Rose Bowl II: The Reckoning tonight, but Week 3 is more or less on the books. And the season is shaping up as all NFL seasons do after three weeks – a hearty mix of expected starts, both good and bad, and surprising over- and under- performers. The one guarantee in professional football is that there are no guarantees. That’s why they play the games and that’s why we spend our Sundays watching them. On that note, I offer today’s column.
Football is best enjoyed in groups. The hard hits, impossible passes and exhaustive analysis create a perfect storm of manly, chest-bumping, “great to be alive” camaraderie. Fans gather across the country in stadium parking lots, lucky bars and packed living rooms and celebrate the day that, for many, is the highlight of their week. And darn it, it should be. Sundays during football season are a party and must be treated like one. Actually throw a party! If you, the readers, have never thrown a Regular Season Football Watching Party, then you better get to it. Appease the Gods of Sport and impress your friends by inviting a bunch of them over for food and festivities. If you get six buddies at your house for Week 4, maybe one of them will volunteer his or her place for Week 5. It’s like Pay It Forward, only less terrible.
You may be thinking that you are ill-equipped to throw a Regular Season Football Watching Party. Without necessarily knowing you, I can already say that you are wrong. Here at Nerds on Sports, we’re in the business of education. So let me do my part destroy some of the misconceptions that are no doubt keeping you from having this shindig.
“I need an enormous television.” Not true, my friend. While disorientingly large plasma screens are certainly fantastic and worth watching football on, they are not essential for a party. A television needs only to be big enough to be seen clearly from all parts of the room. If you’re squinting from fifteen feet back, then you may need an upgrade. But no one is going to talk trash on your 27″ non-HD screen if it is showing a stirring AFC match-up at 4 o’clock on the Lord’s Day. And if anyone says anything, get them to throw the bash at their house next week. Especially if that anyone is packing a Jumbotron.
“My team isn’t on today.” For starters, you’re probably wrong. Check the TV Guide channel. Even without the Every Game Including Texas High School Football package that your friendly cable company offers, you most likely are getting the home team and about five or six other games over the course of the day. So even if you’re a transplant from another city, you’ve got a coin flip’s chance of seeing your squad go. Also, even if the locals and your childhood favorites are both on byes, any football game boasts enough interesting match-ups to hold everyone’s attention. This is the era of free agency, people. Most likely, your favorite player isn’t on his original team anymore.
“My friends are too busy to spend a whole day at my house.” What else is there to do on a Sunday? Church? Bah! Football is religion. Make sure your friends are aware. Besides, football is played between 1 p.m. and midnight on Sunday. They can make at least some of it. And if they can’t, go out and meet more friends.
“I hate cleaning up before/after parties.” The joy of a football party, compared to a ‘regular’ party, is that it is usually confined to two rooms – the kitchen and the living room. Odds are there won’t be drunken co-eds making out in your bedroom (if there are, let me know and I’ll come by to, ummm, fix it) or folks demolishing your bathroom. You only need to deal with the two areas of Where The Food Is and Where People Will Be Watching The Game. It takes all of five minutes to vacuum a living room and less than that to Swiffer a kitchen. If your friends are neat, or at least not obnoxious enough to shotgun beers on your couch, you’ll likely only be tidying up before the party to make the sty you live in presentable.
Convinced yet? Great! Welcome to the Cause. Now that you’re on board, I have a few suggestions that will make the process very easy and the party exceedingly memorable.
Try a two television set-up. There’s more than one game on TV at a time on a Sunday (with at least half a dozen kickoffs happening at 1 p.m., another bunch at 4 p.m. and then at least one more on Sunday night) so you might as well take advantage. Have the living room television be the Main Event and a smaller TV, if you have one lying around, in the kitchen for that one dude that really wants to see the Arizona Cardinals play. It’ll be twice the football on at once, and give the party more of that “control room” feel.
Stagger the food distribution but keep the drinks flowing. Have a handful of items that can last several hours out at the beginning of the gathering, and then slow-release other foods over the course of the day. Get a couple bowls of chips and salsa and some seven layer dip out early (Serpico Culinary Tip: Put sour cream or guacamole on top, to prevent the cheese layer from drying out). Have cookies, crackers and other goods out. But in terms of hot foods, have somewhat set times for it. Get some wings in the oven when the guests arrive and then hold off on ordering pizza until the second round of kickoffs near dinner time. While the beer (Serpico Culinary Tip: Beer and Soda are all you need at a football party) should be in constant supply, having the food come in waves is a great way to keep people a pleasant level of full throughout the party. And it spares them from picking over six hour old Chinese food during the Sunday Night game.
Keep your computer on and encourage laptop usage. If you have a laptop and wireless in the apartment, put your machine out in the living room so that folks can check their fantasy football scores. I’d be willing to bet half the people in your house have a vested interest in what Brian Westbrook or are doing right now, so make it easy for them to check. Set aside a small coffee or end table aside for this. And let folks know that they can bring their laptops as well, should they be so inclined. Wireless for the masses, I say!
Garbage cans are your friend. Put one in the living room and one in the kitchen and the amount of Red Solo Cup disposal you’ll need to do at party’s end will decrease dramatically.
Set up the money rules before the party. If you want your buddies to chip in, make them aware before the party so they can show up with a fiver in hand. If you don’t want your buddies to chip in, hopefully one of them will be moved enough to host the next one. Also, encourage folks to bring singles, in case someone wants to bet a dollar on when exactly Fred Taylor will get hurt.
It really doesn’t take much in terms of cash outlay, set up or clean up time to throw a great Regular Season Football Watching Party. The fun you get out of it will be much more than the effort you put in. And your friends will thank you, likely in kind.