Sharing suds makes Sunday more Super

January 27, 1992|By Jay Merwin

They wouldn't be caught dead at home alone on Super Sunday, wouldn't want to show up at work the next day with some lame account of a quiet evening in front of the television.

Super Bowl Sunday seems to demand more from Americans, which is why Ed Delaha and his friend were perched on bar stools at the Baltimore Original Sports Bar yesterday hollering insults across the aisle at Washington Redskins fans when the Skins scored.

The excitement cannot be consumed alone, or even with just a few people, said Mr. Delaha, 31, who had dressed for the occasion in a defiant New York Giants jersey.

He had to watch the game with a crowd. Besides, at home, "I don't have the room to have 20 to 30 people come over," he said.

This crowd exceeded that quorum. The cavernous loft on Market Place was jammed with people watching the game on two big screens and 46 television monitors stationed in key positions around the barroom.

"It's kind of like New Year's Eve, it's a competitive kind of thing," said Dennis Brennan, the bar's general manager. "Where were you on Super Bowl?"

Through weeks of planning ahead of time and shared memories afterward, Super Sunday has taken on the dimensions of other American holidays.

"It forms an American icon. If there's one thing we're still good at, it's football," said Chris Ellis, a graduate student in immunology at Johns Hopkins.

He joined his wife, his father-in-law and about 50 others gathered for the game at the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Council of the Knights of Columbus in Sykesville. "We stock up on beer and food three days before, clear the calendar and don't expect to do much at work the next day," Mr. Ellis said.

The ritual ends for Mr. Ellis with post-game calls to his brothers.

"By the time I talk to them and critique the game, it's like 2 in the morning," he said.

For Mrs. Ellis, a law student at Catholic University in Washington, Super Sunday is "a day when you can forget all your responsibilities, have a good time."

She came to like football as a teen-ager growing up in Sykesville. Since the all boys she dated then played it, she said, she decided, "OK, it's not repulsive to me. I'll go along."

The wall decor of the Knights hall was Colts and Orioles pennants and paper football helmets emblazoned with beer labels. The tables were heaped with the feast of a bull and oyster roast.

Behind the bar, John Curtain, an organizer of the event, found a geopolitical explanation for the day that holds most of the country in its thrall.

At a time when the country is battered by recession and an unfavorable trade imbalance, the Super Bowl is "part of America," said Mr. Curtain, 52, a trucking manager for Super Fresh. "We're trying to keep buying American. The Super Bowl is purely American."

He meant the celebration, which not even a Toyota ad flickering on the screen could dilute. "There's no Super Bowls anywhere else," Mr. Curtain said.

For the Sneakers sports bar in Columbia, Super Sunday is for feting regular customers with a free bull and oyster roast and light beers reduced from $1.50 to $1 a glass. "This is the largest sporting event we do here," said Dennis Imbesi, one of the bar owners.

Rick Rennie, a regular at Sneakers, was communing with his fellow fans from a corner bar stool. His perch was suitable for the pre-game show, but not for the game itself.

More than two hours before kick-off, he had draped his jacket over a chair near the big screen to save one of the best seats in the house.

Mr. Rennie, 42, can't remember spending a Super Sunday at home. He has celebrated most Super Sundays in recent years at Sneakers. It's something of a family day. Here at Sneakers, he said, "We're a close-knit family."

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