Super Bowl is more than just a game

Josh Echt

At least through Sunday evening, Cleveland resident Caitlin Szczepinski will become a fan of a football team 2,000 miles away.

Szczepinski, sophomore criminal justice major, said she will cheer for the Seattle Seahawks when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.

“If you’re a Steeler fan in Cleveland, you probably get rocks thrown at you,” she said.

Szczepinski said she was raised from a young age to hate the Steelers. Her parents told her tales of the Cleveland Browns teams of the late 1980s that played legendary games against the Steelers.

“One of my earliest memories of football is watching the Browns’ Bernie Kosar with my family,” Szczepinski said.

Jen Maze, senior human development and family studies major, will be rooting for her beloved Steelers on Sunday.

Maze said she was born and raised on the Steelers.

“My father came from West Virginia,” Maze said. “I got my first Terrible Towel when I was 8 years old.”

The importance of family and culture in the Super Bowl is akin to religion, said Jerry M. Lewis, professor emeritus of sociology.

“It’s not just the event itself, but rather the experience surrounding it,” Lewis said. “Certain sporting events, like the Super Bowl or soccer’s World Cup, serve as a functional alternative to religion. Very few people schedule against the Super Bowl, for instance. Stores close early and churches hold early services.”

Families perform rituals when watching the Super Bowl that are similar to religious aspects, he said.

Family and friends coming over is part of the ritual, Lewis said.

“The television set is the ritual’s iconic center, the halftime food is the communion and the family unit is the worshiper,” Lewis said.

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].