Editorial: Bob Goes to the Super Bowl

Quinn Hull, Sports Editor

Bob slipped anonymously into the Burton basement on Sunday evening, undetected by a group, a crowd perhaps, of television-watchers. They sat on every conceivable surface — cheap green sofas, rigid plastic chairs, accompanying tables, the ground — and were engrossed, to varying extents, by the big screen-broadcasted Super Bowl XLVI. The New England Patriots would go on to lose to the New York Giants — but the story of the Super Bowl, as always, is much more than the football game. Consider, again, Bob.

Bob had come to the Burton basement for one reason and one reason only: to watch the Super Bowl, in peace, and perhaps alone. He had expected, in the very least, that there would be a place to set his “sit-upon.” But, alas, there was none, and without a place upon which to sit Bob instead stood. His entry had come at a flow, so to speak, in the frenzy of the spectators (who all seemed friendly — with each other, but not with him) — the conclusion of the Super Bowl’s unnecessarily drawn-out halftime show and commencement of the game’s second half. The quite unlonely room seemed not to note his presence, causing him, in his conspicuous perpendicular position, to feel quite isolated in turn.

But the room slowly warmed. When the “crowd” – the only name to call a football-watching gathering — hurrahed a Giants success (and only those of the Giants, because everyone who goes to this school is from Westchester County), he too began to cheer; when they frustratingly clenched their fists at Bill Belichick’s (that’d be the Patriot’s football coach) genius, he started following suit. After receiving a few high fives, he started giving them. Bob laughed at the Star Wars and dog-infused Volkswagen commercials (there were so many), shook his head at another GoDaddy.com flopper (I still don’t know what they sell, but it seems inappropriate, like Internet domain names) and snickered at Madonna’s pretty terrible performance (she’s only 53!), just like everyone else.

Finally, from the crowd’s myriad collection of hands out popped a bag of chips and dip. Someone turned to Bob and asked if he’d like some, to which he replied, “yes.” Bob then officially joined the fray, “enlisted” in the crowd, so to speak, by sticking a single ranch-flavored Dorito into guacamole and sticking it into his “pie-hole.” The deed had been done.

No one bothered to ask Bob’s real name because it didn’t matter. He was no longer merely “Bob” — or whatever else — and rather another member of a common, sacred Super Bowl-watching guild. The game continued, the crowd watched and Bob was its newest, happy member.

Why do I tell this story? On the one hand, it’s probably a lie. I was a part of the “crowd” that offered mysterious Bob his initiatory bag of chips, and — I admit it, you got me — I couldn’t possibly know what Bob actually had thought at the time of its receipt, nor what he thinks now.

In another sense, however, I fancy Bob an allegory. I think there were a lot of Bobs that walked in on Super Bowl viewings last Sunday, which is surprising, because Oberlin is arguably the most athletics-apathetic campus in the country. While the rest of America is supposed to go stark raving mad about something like the Super Bowl, and douse themselves in chips, salsa, Budweiser and car commercials, us Obies are not. I figure we’re supposed to scoff at the Patriots fans who paint themselves red, white and blue (and subsequently blur the line between sports fanaticism and patriotism). I reckon that the Sunday before classes start is supposed to bring mildewy denim jackets out of suitcases and back onto torsos, Lucky Strikes (or American Spirits) out of pockets and back into mouths, Boggle, cribbage, etc. out of their boxes and back onto tables, and generally, bring Oberlin students back to Oberlin, along with these (overly) stereotypical nuances. This return is not, I speculate, supposed to bring football to campus televisions.

But Bob was watching — and admit it, you were watching too, even if it wasn’t for the football. Yes, even you there, in the corner, with the hat. Yeah, I saw you eat that guy’s chip.