An alternative Superbowl

Once a year, the rest of the world turns on its television around midnight and pretends to understand the incredibly complex rules of what it calls “American” football. This consumption of American culture is, as usual, largely done wholesale and without question. We are told that the Super Bowl is important; hence, it is important. Thus, we watch it until we get too tired, or until someone complains that literally only 10% of the duration of the game is spent in actual, admittedly quite explosive, play. Having cherry-picked the Super Bowl over, say, the World Series of baseball or the Indy 500, we presume its paramountcy. But dig a little deeper, and there is a whole alternate universe to discover.
For every beer-swilling, beef-eating, truck-driving alpha male who gets a kick out of seeing a twenty stone linebacker literally bark at his opponents with the intention of foreshadowing a tackle so hard that the long-term effects on the brain are still largely unknown, there is a more sensitive soul. A person who looks back fondly on when the word “dog” referred to man’s beloved canine companion rather than his belligerent, shadowy sporting foe. For these people, nature channel Animal Planet have created the Puppy Bowl.
The format is simple. Puppies are placed in a model stadium with, amongst other things, football-shaped toys. If they bring the ball into the endzone, a “puppy touchdown” is awarded. If they cock a leg on the pitch, a penalty is understandably called. For 120 minutes, the puppies run wild. Unlike the heavily strategic stop-start play of the human counterpart, the Puppy Bowl is a very fluid affair, relaxing to watch while still retaining the ability to escalate into dramatic struggles, races or even fights almost instantaneously. For those who think the Puppy Bowl is soft – no penalties are awarded for instances of rough play, even biting.
There is an age-limit of four months for participants, who are drawn from a variety of rescue shelters. As well as ensuring that no puppy has a distinct size advantage, this age-limit prevents annual will-he-won’t-he retirement sagas such as that of forty-year-old Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. Each puppy is a rookie, so enthusiasm, effort and natural talent are the determining factors, rather than the punch-counterpunch strategy of NFL coaches.
Of course, there are no actual teams in the Puppy Bowl, so strictly speaking, no-one wins. Do not let this dissuade you from enjoying the spectacle and the consistently high standard of play (in both senses) on display. If you should feel the need to watch the action on YouTube, watch out for Bandit, a strongly-built Husky-mix expected to dominate proceedings and perhaps pick up the coveted Most Valuable Player award.
For those gentlemen who feel that watching puppies play with toys for two hours in some way challenges their orthodox masculinity, there is another alternative. Since 2004, the Lingerie Bowl has aired on Pay Per View during the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The game is essentially full-contact seven-on-seven American football (the real deal is eleven-a-side) played out by teams of women in shorts, sports bras and regulation helmets and shoulder pads. The entire purpose, supposedly, is to appeal to the same crowd who watch women have mud fights for the WWE Women’s Title on the undercard of wrestling pay per view events, but the actual play is surprisingly authentic.
Unlike the Puppy Bowl, which drafts recruits wherever it can find them, the Lingerie Bowl is actually the final of the Lingerie Football League, a touring concern which dubs itself “real fantasy football” and plays its games in stadiums around the United States on Friday nights, setting itself up as a legitimate alternative to college football on Saturday night, and the NFL on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. The victors in the Western and Eastern conference meet each other for violent American football action that someone, somewhere must find erotic. This year, Los Angeles Temptation and Chicago Bliss beat out the likes of San Diego Seduction and Miami Caliente to earn the chance to compete for the crown.
Of course, this is Ireland, and avoiding the Super Bowl is about as challenging as trying to stay pale in winter. If puppies or aggressive women in sports bras aren’t to your tastes, and you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to see the America’s fastest and strongest compete in the world’s highest stakes chess game, you can always just go to bed.