The moment we first saw that oddly shaped brown leather ball, Americans fell head over regulation cleats. The rest of the world might raise their brows at our obsession with a championship game played in staccato, but there's something exhilarating about watching our Super Bowl favorites fight hard for each yard line they gain. There's a shared tension between the fans and the men on the field, a togetherness, and when they make that big touchdown, when that tension breaks, there's nothing like it.
But while newspaper headlines the next day might focus on who won, and won by what, we know that's not really why we come back each year and circle around the TV set. It doesn't really matter if it's the Panthers or the Broncos who take the lead, or if they're down by 3 or up by 7 when they make that winning play.
This is what really matters — and why you'll be having the time of your life with your friends on Super Bowl Sunday.
6. Another “Left Shark” is going to happen, and it’ll be beautiful.
Last year, football fans fell in love with the dancing skills — or lack thereof — of one of halftime show headliner Katy Perry's backup sharks. It's impossible to predict what surreal, self-parodizing moment will capture the water cooler's attention this year, but have your Twitter app at the ready, and be prepared to join in on the laughter.
5. You’ll get to see people you might not normally see.
There are certain days that can be counted on to encourage Americans to get together, and Super Bowl Sunday is up there with New Year's Eve and Thanksgiving. Your college friends will meet your work friends, and your work friends will meet your neighborhood friends, but have no fear. A ref making questionable calls has a way of bringing even the unlikeliest groups of people together.
4. Nothing tastes better than drinks you share with your friends.
The Super Bowl is a perfect excuse to go all out on your celebration. Whether you're going out or staying in, a food and drink selection that isn't limited to beer and chips shows that your party is a cut above the rest. Try a Blood Orange Cooler or a One-Two Rum Punch at TGI Fridays, and consider downloading a Super Bowl-themed drinking game to add to the excitement.
3. Except for food.
Pretzels with cheese dipping sauce. Nachos overflowing with your favorite toppings. Mozzarella sticks. Check out the menu at a popular restaurant like Fridays ahead of time to get inspired, so that when it's game time, you can focus on the game.
2. It never hurts to have a little healthy competition.
Even if your hometown heroes aren't the ones taking the field on Super Bowl Sunday, it's still incredibly fun to dress up in your adopted team's colors and cheer them on, especially when your friends are repping the opposition. Get loud, get proud, and have a blast.
1. Because ultimately, no matter whose jersey you’re wearing, you’re in it together.
Former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela once said that sports have "the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does," and nowhere is that more true than in a football stadium. Rival teams' fans might shout slogans until they're blue in the face while the clock is ticking, but once it stops, they band together to support common causes.
So have fun on Super Bowl Sunday, and get into the spirit of the event. Overanalyze the ref's calls and chuckle at the commercials and argue with your friends about whose team is going to take the trophy — when it's all over and done with, you might just find that you're even closer than you were before.
Cover photo via Christian Petersen/Getty Images and David Ryder/Getty Images.