Pigskin, parties, and pain

By Sara Jerome

For second-year Wen Yang Qi, Super Bowl XLI started hours before the 5:25 p.m. kickoff. Qi spent the day shopping for groceries, beseeching unripe avocados to transform into guacamole, and pondering the proper cleaning protocol for his bright orange and blue jersey.

“I’ve been wearing it for two weeks, and people have been like, ‘that jersey has got to be starting to stink,’” said Qi, a longtime Bears fan who decided that Super Bowl Sunday warranted fragrant and unstained apparel. “I washed it by itself and hung it to dry. It’s my first time ever hanging something to dry.”

Despite a disappointing outcome for Bears fans, students still got to enjoy a rare pleasure this weekend: Sunday afternoon parties.

From a Harold’s Chicken–eating contest in Hitchcock house to a party featuring special guest economics Professor Alan Sanderson in Chamberlin house, almost all the residence halls planned special events. At a time when students usually burrow away to study, many braved the cold to relish the complimentary buffet at The Grounds or the traditional salty-snack-and-beer-fest at frat and apartment parties across campus.

Considerable effort went into this weekend’s Super Bowl parties. According to Qi, the ideal menu is a three-course affair: finger food in the first half to warm up, “hearty” entrees at halftime “so no one has to leave to get dinner,” and desserts in the second half “to keep people’s energy up.” The guest list should include fans from both teams to keep things interesting, and the TV should be “at least the size of a small child, preferably a large child.” The cooler, Qi added, must be well stocked.

“There’s something great about having a Bud and watching the game,” Qi said. “But it’s practically a sin to pre-game, because when the game starts, you’ll already be wasted.”

Along with good food and beer, rowdy fans are a must-have at Super Bowl parties, said fourth-year Frank Rios, who commended fans who try to impact the game by yelling at the TV.

“It comes along with the passion of watching the game,” Rios said. “It’s all part of the experience.”

The commercials and the halftime show, classic draws for those who can’t tell a touchdown from a fumble, garnered mixed reviews this year. Seeing Prince singing in the rain and playing his signature shaped guitar was a throwback to students’ childhoods in the ’90s.

“I must’ve been in fifth grade when he changed his name,” said Judy Stanton, a fourth-year in the College. Still, Stanton credited Prince with a good performance. “It wasn’t as flashy as I expected, which is probably a good thing. The emphasis was more on the music.”

As always, the Super Bowl drew a wider audience than other NFL games. Third-year Laura McFarland, who described herself as “a six on a 10-point scale spanning those who didn’t know the Super Bowl was today and those who use ‘Go Bears!’ as a greeting,” said she was psyched for the game.

McFarland said she caught the “infectious” Bears’ spirit from the downtown buildings adorned with pro-Bears messages and from a throng of male students that invaded her physics class singing the Bears’ fight song. In response to the disruption, McFarland’s professor, Stuart Gazes, quipped, “So, I hear there’s a football game this weekend?”

“A win would’ve improved morale around campus,” McFarland explained, citing the unbearable cold and midterm slump of winter quarter.

For the few who maintained NFL apathy even with a Bears championship on the line, Sunday offered a different spectator event. University Ballet, displaying a daintier form of athleticism than the one on TV, performed Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty in International House.

Third-year Casandra Gonzalez, both a Bears fan and a ballerina, managed to change out of her long ballet gown and into Bears garb by the time the game started. Gonzalez pointed out the overlap in her two interests: “Some football players actually take ballet” to gain agility, she said. “I don’t expect to see many 300-pound, six-foot ballerinas, though.”

Besides ballet-goers, the other people who dodged disappointment on Sunday are a rare breed in Chicago: Colts fans. Indianapolis Colts fan Chris Espinal, a first year, said that even for a Yankees-supporter hailing from Massachusetts, the novelty of being the outnumbered fan never wears off.

“It felt great to be the only Colts fan,” he said. “It feels great to know you’re right, and everyone else is wrong.”

Fans on both sides may have had a hard time facing Monday morning. Rios said Colts fans probably “went crazy” on Sunday night.

“They’ll go to work on Monday, but it’s really a lost day,” he said.

Second-year Robert Ren envisioned a less joyful but equally inebriated night for Bears fans. “For them, it’s going to be the heavy alcohol-abuse kind of drinking,” he predicted.

“I’m not going to class” on Monday, said die-hard Bears fan Zain Gowani, a second-year in the College. He further confirmed Ren’s prediction, saying, “I’m going to drown my sorrows either in my tears or in my bottle of Grey Goose.”

Speaking like a true fan, Gowani said, “My soul is shriveling because the Bears lost. But they’ll always be winners in my heart.”

On second thought, he added, “I don’t think my soul got the memo.”