As an avid football fan, Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most anticipated days of the year in my family. It’s a day when millions of people gather in front of the television, break out the snacks and refreshments, and get ready for some exciting action. It also means Super Bowl parties, and whether that party is in someone’s home or in a restaurant or bar, it’s likely there will be plenty of alcohol available. Nielsen reports that in 2017, America spent $224 million on tortilla chips, $198 million on frozen pizza, and … wait for it … $1.3 billion on beer and cider. That’s billion with a B!
Football gets a bad rap for being a dangerous sport, but one of the most dangerous places to be on Super Bowl Sunday may be on the roads after the game. Drinking violations by repeat DUI offenders jumps 22% on Super Bowl Sunday compared to other normal Sundays. It’s not surprising to me that driving violations are higher in the regions that have a team in the game – in this case, San Francisco Bay area and Kansas City. What is surprising to me is that studies show that on average, drunk driving arrests are 75% higher in the regions with the winning team than the losing team. These studies are based on court-ordered and monitored individuals with repeat drunk driving offenses. This makes me wonder: what are the rates of drinking and driving for potential first time offenders on Super Bowl Sunday?
As I was getting sober, well-meaning people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous said you can’t do things like go to football games, concerts or social gatherings because “now you’re sober.” God willing, I’ll be hitting my 30 year sobriety birthday next week. I’ve learned that you absolutely can and should attend social gatherings, you just need to ensure your recovery comes first. There’s a level of personal responsibility and accountability for your own wellness.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says we can go anywhere that alcohol is served as long as we’re on good solid spiritual ground and I believe that. Being sober doesn’t mean you can’t party, you just do it alcohol free. I’ve been an avid football fan my whole life. I was a season ticket holder at the 700-level of Veteran’s Stadium, which is known to be where the “rowdies” are. There was lots of drinking and partying in that space. Our row of six happened to all be individuals who were sober and in recovery. We had the support of one another even though all around us was chaos and confusion.
Every year, I host a Super Bowl party of my own and invite people I know from the fellowship. These days, it’s a joint venture. Everyone brings a dish, everyone helps to clean up. We get loud and proud – we just do it sober. The next day is not one of regret. You’re not hung over, you’re of clear mind. You remember who played in the game and usually what the score was. And if not, you remember the commercials! I remember the first Super Bowl party I hosted in recovery. We bought a big projection screen to show the game and had about fifty people over. But, the gathering was one of fellowship and common thread. It was nothing like the Super Bowl parties I had been used to, where people were drunk and obnoxious, and the place was left a mess. I wasn’t having to look out for the person who drank a little too much, stay tense about what might happen, and make sure the items in my house weren’t going to get destroyed!
When I do attend other parties, I pour my own beverages and don’t put them down in case I pick up the wrong drink. I bring non-alcoholic drinks and have plenty available. These days there are plenty of options available! I ensure I have a safe way out – either I’ve driven myself or have someone with me who’s also sober so I can exit easily if the party becomes unsafe. Before I attend a function, I ask where I am spiritually. Am I good solid spiritual ground? If not, I may choose not to go.
Living a life of sobriety doesn’t mean giving up activities you used to love, it just means approaching it a different way. Super Bowl Sunday is no different! Enjoying a fun, festive, sober Super Bowl Sunday can lead to momentum into other sober activities. I think that’s why the Big Book says “We’re not a glum lot… we absolutely INSIST on enjoying life!”