A visiting student enjoys his first Israeli Super Bowl

All anyone could talk about on Sunday was the much-anticipated Maccabi Haifa-Betar Jerusalem "football" game.

super bowl bears 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
super bowl bears 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
For the first time ever, the Super Bowl was not the biggest football game in town. All anyone could talk about on Sunday was the much-anticipated Maccabi Haifa-Betar Jerusalem "football" game. I'm not sure who won. All I could think about was how safe my NIS 50 bet on the Bears was. I'm watching the game with a guy from Texas and a guy from Alabama. At home in the US, my friend Haim and I host a party every year. The Super Bowl for us - and many others in North America - is about a few things: big screens, over-the-top-funny commercials, chicken wings, Budweiser beer and obscure bets. Before the game starts, we take a pen and paper and place five-dollar bets on everything from the game-winner to who's going to win the coin toss. We're very typical about the whole thing, and we love it. The Super Bowl is about celebrating being typically ridiculous. The commercials have been half CBS blockbusters and half METV ads for old sitcom reruns like the Cosby Show and Lassie. The recurring theme this Super Bowl week has been about the fact that for the first time ever, two black coaches are squaring off against each other in the game. All the media's been saying is how it's not a big deal that both coaches are black. All game long, there are constant closeups of the coaches and plugs for black history month. It's actually starting to look a little ridiculous. I walked into a party populated mostly by Americans and new olim. They had rented a projector, made salsa and ordered pizza. But the cable feed was METV and not CBS, "America's most watched station." The salsa was lacking some Mexican spice, and the pizza came with this strange mayonnaisey, spicy sauce. The chips were finished in 15 minutes, and the sunflower seeds and nargilah seemed to be carrying us through the night. I suppose it's impossible to bring authentic American culture overseas. The Israeli staples are saving us here. By the second quarter, there have been five turnovers, the Colts are up by five points and the guy behind me is snoring. We all accidentally wake him up laughing violently as the artist formerly known as Prince attempts to cover Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" in a lime-green suit and tangerine shirt. As usual, when watching American sports in Israel, there is more than enough banter over which players are Jewish. The Texan thinks Grossman, the Bears quarterback, has a Jewish father. He also claims the Bears kicker, Robbie Gould, is Jewish. It's all speculation. Apparently the Colts owner is Jewish, too. But everyone just wishes there were more Jews to cheer for. By the third quarter, there's a symphony of snoring behind me. Any moment of boredom is automatically pacified every time the Texan and I look at each other and enjoy the sounds of sinus. In all honesty, it's 3:45 a.m., my eyes are starting to close and delirium is setting in. Fighting to stay awake during the game is a whole new experience. It's late, but we all feel fortunate to be here. Tank Johnson of the Chicago Bears especially, who is playing the game under "special supervision" from the local authorities after being arrested three times. Who says athletes don't get special treatment? So the game is over. Unfortunately the Colts, who had been known as perpetual big game losers, have finally won. It was a great game, back and forth, but they were the better team. Whoever is still awake feels like they've been battling to finish this thing along with the players. The commentators are still talking about the coaches. The real story is that Peyton Manning, one of the best-ever quarterbacks, now has a championship. Our real story is that we stayed up for this game. How many programs would I actually stay awake all night to watch? So even though my team lost and I am NIS 50 poorer, I can't help but feel as though I/we have accomplished something by making it through the game. It was a victory of sorts, and I'm up-to-date with Chevy's newest line of larger-than-life trucks and Pizza Hut's new crusts. I'll never forget my first Israeli Super Bowl, except for those 10 minutes of the fourth quarter for which I was asleep... At least I don't snore. Go Bears.