"When is Super Bowl Sunday?" By now, even the least sports-crazy Americans can answer: Feb. 3.
Non-fans get special bonus points for knowing the city (New Orleans), the teams (the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Baltimore Ravens), the coaches (Jim Harbaugh and his older brother, John Harbaugh), and personal tidbits (Jim Harbaugh is the father of six – three with his first wife and three with his second).
What do you do if you only care about the human-interest fluff – not about the game? (Full disclosure: That would be me.)
Some experts help out. Their suggestions:
Watch half time and the commercials. "You don't have to love football to enjoy the Super Bowl," says Nashua, N.H., psychologist Carl Hindy, co-author of If This Is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure? "My own wife likes to watch football much more than I do."
Cheer for the downtrodden team. The 49ers are slim favorites. "Psychologically, rooting for the underdog seems to be a rally for hope – a rally for overcoming adversaries and restoring balance," says Hindy. "Remember the Super Bowl after the New Orleans flood devastation? We all wanted the Saints to win! Not everyone loves the Patriots, but when owner Bob Kraft's wife died of cancer during the season, so many more wanted to bestow a victory on him and his team."
Be nice. "My strong advice to the ladies is live in the world of generosity on Super Bowl Sunday," says Beverly Hills, Calif., psychotherapist Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent. "Go out and buy his favorite snacks. If you cannot tolerate watching it with him, go do something else – get a manicure, a massage. Do something for yourself, but allow him wholeheartedly to enjoy what he likes. It's really one day a year. You will reap the benefits 10-fold. Girls, give your man a good time." (The situation reminds her of the "I Love Lucy" "season two" episode about the wives going out because Ricky and Fred just want to watch a TV fight. Lucy makes change for herself at the cash register – and gets arrested.)
Follow the coaches, who are brothers. Some people are calling it the Super-Baugh. Everyone wonders about the brothers' relationship before, during and after the game, says Hindy. "Was their competition in prior years a healthy one. How will the parents of the brothers handle it?" Tennis star sisters Venus and Serena Williams have lived through it, notes Walfish. So have football player brothers Eli and Peyton Manning. Use it all for conversation. Ask your kids, "What if you guys were on opposing teams. How would you handle it?" says Walfish. "Talk about it."
Recalculate after the Super Bowl. What if your guy's sports obsession doesn't end with the last touchdown between the 49ers and the Ravens? "The hallmark of when an innocent hobby has crossed the threshold is by asking certain key questions," says Dr. Sudeepta Varma, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University's medical school. "How is this impacting my social and work obligations? Am I spending less time with kids and wife as a result? Am I frequently getting into fights with my spouse as a result? Do I miss out on important landmark events (birthdays, holidays, weddings) because of this? That is, was your wife in the delivery room, and you were scanning the hospital for a TV to catch the score. The key here is that there is some sort of deficit, dysfunction, or impairment, or it could be that your wife is constantly feeling neglected."
Look at the NFL's countdown clock. The digital timekeeper will help you tick off the hours until the big game is finished. Here's "countdown to kickoff."