When the Kansas City Chiefs face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, it’ll be the first Super Bowl in the pandemic era. So, as well as getting ready for some football, you can also get ready for some Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation on Super Bowl parties that likely isn’t going to get followed.
Not that you should go ahead with your usual shindig this year, mind you, unless everyone has been thoroughly vaccinated. (Given the rules, that’d likely be one old party.)
However, there’s a difference between everyone double-dipping into a huge vat of seven-layer dip and what the Biden administration’s CDC thinks you should be doing.
“Gathering virtually or with the people you live with is the safest way to celebrate the Super Bowl this year,” the recommendations read.
“If you do have a small gathering with people who don’t live with you, outdoors is safer than indoors. This year, choose a safer way to enjoy the game.”
This’ll be fun, everyone! The CDC says you can decorate your house with team merchandise or wear a logo hoodie. You can “[m]ake appetizers or snacks with the people you live with to enjoy while watching the game and share the recipes with your friends and family.” How about a group chat with other fans? See, fun!
If you were intent on having a party this year, the CDC seems to acknowledge this would go over about as well as your favorite team signing Johnny Manziel to a multiyear contract and naming him the starting quarterback. Thus, it set some ground rules for revelers.
Why not attend an outdoor party? “Use a projector screen to broadcast the game,” the CDC recommends. “Sit at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.”
And for the love of heck, don’t cheer.
“Avoid shouting, cheering loudly, or singing,” the CDC recommends. “Clap, stomp your feet, or bring (or provide) hand-held noisemakers instead.”
No ruling on vuvuzelas, but I’m going to wager they’re verboten, too.
Masks are a must, both indoors and outdoors. Also, don’t take food from strangers (or anyone else): “Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils, and condiment packets,” the recommendations read.
Also, make sure you keep background noise low, lest people feel the need to shout. Of course, being 6 feet away, they might need to talk louder anyhow, but … ah, what’s the use?
Here’s the thing: Whatever the CDC’s recommendations, it’s questionable how much of a difference it’s going to make.
A Seton Hall Sports Poll taken Jan. 22-25 found that 25 percent of respondents would be going to a Super Bowl gathering with individuals outside their household, a situation that could be termed a party. While 64 percent said they wouldn’t, 11 percent said they weren’t sure.
“[O]n what is usually a social gathering occasion, either in homes or at bars, two thirds – 64 percent – said that [they] would not be gathering with other people that live outside of their homes,” the Seton Hall Sports Poll said in a news release. “Despite Covid-19, one in four said they will be gathering with other people that live outside of their homes.”
How much of a social occasion the Super Bowl is depends on what data you look at. On this account, surveys are spotty. A 2020 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of snack brand Farm Rich found 42 percent planned to go to a party, according to the New York Post. A 2019 survey from YouGov, meanwhile, found that only 15 percent did.
It’s not something we usually care about, but Seton Hall’s findings weren’t drastically different from those in past years. We’re not talking less than 10 percent going to parties. Factor in the potential polling bias that you’re supposed to say you’re not going to a gathering — doing your part to socially distance, after all — that’s still one in four who will be attending a gathering.
The problem with taking these recommendations to extremes is the exhaustion factor. After nearly a year of “two weeks to stop the spread,” people are tired of being told not to cheer at parties outside where they stay 6 feet apart from people who aren’t in their household.
Don’t take this as an endorsement of pretending COVID-19 doesn’t exist and squeezing 50 people into your tiny apartment so you can all breathe on one another because that’ll show Dr. Fauci. Rebelling against advice that goes too far by going to the opposite extreme is just as stupid.
However, consider this yet another reminder that medical and epidemiological authority debasing its own credibility has been one of the hallmark constants of the pandemic.
False information and cavalier attitudes have done plenty of damage, but let’s not forget the constant erosion of our trust and mental health by experts who demand we isolate ourselves and forgo celebrations (and then routinely flout their own demands).
The CDC could have put out a list of reasonable harm reduction measures. It didn’t, and people won’t listen. Again.
You can expect a lot more of this now that Joe Biden’s in the Oval Office, too.
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