What it’s like watching the Super Bowl in South Africa

First off… GO PATRIOTS! Helluva job done!

Right then, what’s it like watching one of the biggest events in sports outside the only nation where it’s played?

It’s very different is what it is. Not at all like how the typical American celebrates Super Bowl Sunday. In the USA it’s all about Super Bowl Parties, meeting friends at a bar to watch the game, big family gatherings or for a few, watching on TV at home with a snack platter consisting of these tasty morsels. Or just Dorritos and beer with a few spicy buffalo wings.

Not so much in South Africa. The first big difference that has the biggest impact in how you watch NFL games in South Africa is the time difference. Super Bowl XLIX kicked off 01:30 am local time, that’s terribly early (or late) on a Monday morning. Yes, you heard me, a Monday morning. We’re ahead of the USA so by the time the game kicked off in Phoenix, most Saffas were in deep REM sleep. Our household recently had the addition of a gorgeous baby girl, she’s 7 months old now so setting my alarm to watch the game came with some trepidation, and negotiation with my wife.

Do not, under any circumstances wake her up.

If she wakes up, I won’t be watching Tom and the boys vying for another championship ring, I’d be rocking my daughter to sleep. So that meant making a flask of coffee the previous night so I don’t have to boil the kettle and eating Danish Butter Biscuits out of a tin. Not even some bacon & eggs were on the cards. A far cry from the feasts served on Instagram. It also meant sneaking around the living room and kitchen like a ninja, tiptoeing as if avoiding landmines or dog poop. Why would I need to go the kitchen you ask? I have the Danish Butter Biscuits and flask of hot coffee, right? Why risk making a noise? Well, there was some leftover pizza in the fridge, I was seriously contemplating having a slice. I’d need to heat it up though and the microwave, as silent as it is during waking hours, would sound like the Deathstar descending at 02:00 am in the morning. No pizza then.

So, there I am, in my pajamas munching on cookies and drinking coffee. At least I can watch the game. Problem is, I can’t have the home entertainment system blaring so early in the morning. Luckily I got a pair of decent headphones for Christmas, problem solved. The headphones aren’t wireless though and the cord is only 3 meters long. Problem is, the daybed is 5 meters away from the TV. So, I have coffee and cookies and can watch the game without disturbing anyone. As long as I rest my elbows on the edge of the couch in the tricep dips position…

Having the earphones on also means I can’t hear anything else, including myself. So when plays like this, this or this happen, I need to cheer in absolute silence. I can only imagine what it looked like, me fist pumping in a crab stance, mouthing “C’mon!” and face contorted with no sound, as if in a vacuum. In my PJ’s. All the while careful not to trip over the headphone’s cord.

I don’t look like this…


Probably the weirdest thing of the whole event, is that I was watching my team play, alone. Just me. No one to fist bump, chest bump or high-five. That’s just not right. The only thing I could resort to was sending emoticons to that effect to my buddy who was also watching the game, alone. At 02:00 am. I realised there is no chest bump emoticon, someone needs to fix that.

Then of course there is the actual watching of the Super Bowl. There are a few options to do that in South Africa, none of which are ideal. Our local satellite broadcaster did show the game, but for some strange reason they interjected local ads in stead of showing the Super Bowl commercials. Blasphemy! Everyone knows we actually watch for these insanely expensive 30″ gloats. I didn’t want to spoil them by watching them ahead of the game on YouTube, they lose a bit of their zing then. We also didn’t get to see the half time show. Not that I wanted to see the beautiful Katy Perry belt out her extremely catchy pop anthems… So you wanna play with magic / Boy, you should know what you’re falling for… Ahem… Anyhoo. Another option is using a VPN service to circumvent the geoblocking placed on NFL Gamepass. It’s $200 for a season including post-season games and the Super Bowl, a bit much for supporters in a country where you’ll need to sacrifice sleep from September to February to watch the games. NBC kindly provided a free stream which you could also access via a VPN unblocking service, problem was that the stream was very popular so connecting was problematic. So I was stuck with the local offering sans all the ads and Katy. Only half a Super Bowl then. 😉

Lastly, and if the Pats had lost it would be the one thing that hurt the most, is because of the 01:30 kick-off local time, Super Bowl Sunday in South Africa is actually Super Bowl Hellishly Early Monday. I’m at work today and boy is it going to be long day. The Pats winning will soften the blow that is sure to hit just after lunchtime today. That winning feeling will hopefully carry me through to 22:00 tonight when I can crawl into bed, ending a 20 hour day.

So was it worth it? Sacrificing sleep, no Super Bowl snack platter, alone and watching in silence in the dark and no Katy or Budweiser Puppy ads?