Beginners Guide to The Super Bowl

Struggling to understand the game but still want to watch? Of course you do. Here’s some top tips from the Gents for getting more out of the game.

Pads. Cheerleaders. Advert breaks. Man-sized-chess. All things that probably spring to mid for the casual UK observer of this quintessentially American sport. It’s big, it’s brash and there is always something going on. For some that’s too reason enough to watch, while for others it’s part of the charm. It may be confusing at first but look beneath the  surface and you can discover a hard hitting, athletic and incredibly tactical sport.

While we expect most visitors to the Gentlemen to be ardent UK NFL fans, there’s plenty for the casual observer and  the Super Bowl is the best possible time to get better acquainted.  So as well as the in-depth look at the teams, we’ve also put this short guide together for absolute beginners. If you’ve ever made it through the 1st quarter of a game and left without a clue what’s going on, here’s some tips to help make it a bit easier to understand.

 

Them’s the breaks. Why the stop/start nature of American Football is it’s greatest strength.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle toward enjoying American Football  for British audiences is the fact that play occurs in short, sharp bursts. Football is a human chess match. When the ball goes down and play stops, the teams are in a race to analyse what they just did, and what to do next. What are their opponents planning? Should they run the ball or pass instead? How many more downs do they have to work with? Can they afford to gamble with a risky play? A successful team doesn’t always have the fittest and most talented players,if the team can successfully predict what their opponents are going to do, they can do something different that gets them first downs. We’re all armchair generals, don’t like the play? What would you have done?

When the play stops, it’s your turn to figure out what was good, whether it worked. What would you have done instead? Watching American Football is an active occupation.

The Gentlemen’s Top Tips on surviving frequent breaks

  • Depending on the coverage you’re watching, you’ll probably get plenty of replays

  • Try to predict the next play, think about what’s worked and hasn’t for the team so far.

  • Watch reruns of the Philadelphia Eagles (they’re quick)

  • Have another cup of tea/beer/energy drink.

 

Watching the Defense

If you’re following the ball, then the line of scrimmage probably just looks like an unholy mess. There’s a lot going on, too much generally to see in one go, so for a few snaps take your eye off the ball and watch the defensive line. How are they reacting to the Offense? Watch out for whether the defense are playing man coverage (each player is assigned an opposite number to follow, wherever they go) or zone coverage (each player has an area of the field to cover, he’ll tackle anyone who moves into it). The players towards the back of the field are called the secondary – their role is to catch offensive players who break through and stop them from gaining yards.

Gents Top Tips to look out for.

  • Are the defense getting through to the Quarterback, and if so how quickly?

  • Zone or man coverage? If an offensive player moves along the line-up before the snap, and a defensive player follows, it’s probably man-coverage.

  • The obvious one, are they stopping the Offense from advancing?

Be a Quarterback Spy

The QB is the lynchpin of a team’s offense, and their most crucial player, and tonight you can watch two of the very best. They’re paid the megabucks to be able to throw passes and hand the ball off in the toughest conditions. Defenses will do their best to keep them under pressure and rattle them psychologically, usually through  the expedient of running at them extremely quickly and hurling them to the ground. To avoid the hit, QBs can be tempted to not wait for their first target to get into position and try a  quick pass to an unmarked player.

The Gents’ Recommend..

  • Mainly, are they passing successfully? Also going backwards quickly is generally a bad sign.

  • Seahawks QB  Russell Wilson is great at running the ball. How much is he handing it to other players like Marshawn Lynch and how much is he just running it himself?
  • Watch their eyes in the replays on a passing play. A good QB will make time to look from one side to the other,  or  ‘going through their progressions’, seeing who’s open and who best to throw to.

Staying awake

Yes, it’s a challenge. Making it all the way to the 4th Quarter of the game is a badge of honour. Surviving is generally a case of riding consecutive waves of sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Try alternating each just as your artificially induced insomnia starts to wear off.

Tried and Tested Methods

  • Energy drinks. No they’re not for athletes or for people driving heavy machinery and they certainly aren’t for all-night brain surgeons. (If those even exist).They’re for they’re for unfit people like you who want to watch American sports late at night. Try to have 3 in the fridge, chilled to ice cold. Frankly it’s the only way to make them palatable. 
  • Tie a piece of string to the back of your chair. Now tie the other end to a clump of hair on the top of your head. If you start to nod off, the pain will wake you up. For those with interesting hobbies, try hair in different places on your body.

  • Sleep in the offseason, a late night is an excuse for a holiday. Mondays are bad enough but February is awful. It’s cold, hard to get out of bed and the novelty of being back at work has gone (if it was ever there) so book the monday off for Super Bowl recovery and stick it to the man.