At kickoff tonight when more than 100 million Americans tune in for some football, Phyllis Bogovitz Bernel will tune out.
Instead of watching the Super Bowl, the Granger Township woman will be curled up with her rescued dog, Chester, under a warm blanket and reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
“Watching people crashing into each other and hearing the snap of the bones, makes my skin crawl,” said Bernel, 68, a retired Akron Public Schools administrative secretary.
Bernel is not alone in her decision not to watch the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“At my age, I don’t have to be in step with anyone,” said Bernel, an avid reader whose husband, Bruce Bernel, will be watching the game with a group of old high school friends.
Luke and Julie Emch will not be watching either.
The Brimfield Township couple and a few friends instead will view a recording of the 2011 Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After their son, Luke Emch, 21, a Navy corpsman, and also a Green Bay Packers fan, was killed in Iraq in March 2007, the Emches started a group that meets during the football season at Brimfield area restaurants to watch Packers games. The group is aptly called Luke’s Packers Backers.
The tradition continued this season, but the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round.
“It’s kind of sour grapes,” said Wes Emch, 59, a retired schoolteacher. “My team didn’t win, so I’m not going to watch your team.”
He said he and his group will fast-forward through Steelers’ possessions and just watch the Packers and the commercials from the game three years ago.
Patrick White and his wife, Mary, will continue their January tradition of watching Downton Abbey on PBS and steer clear of the big game.
“I would never break our routine with DA,” said White, 63, clinical coordinator of Root House, a men’s residential alcohol and drug treatment facility in Ravenna.
They set up tea and scones and even dress for the show when it airs on Sunday evenings.
Four longtime friends, Kim Holsberry, Sue Bone Delac, Susan DeWitt Burns and Marilyn Pliskin Reinstein, all Firestone High School Class of 1967 classmates, are gathering for a mini reunion in San Diego, Calif., this weekend.
“We won’t watch football,” said Holsberry, 64, a retired teacher from Davis, Calif.
Delac, a Medina resident and retired teacher who turns 64 on Monday; Reinstein, 64, a hospice nurse from Scottdale, Ariz.; and Burns, 64, a physician’s assistant from Manchester, N.H., have gotten together at least once a year for years.
The four will walk on the beach, go to museums, go out to eat, drink wine, and talk, said Holsberry, who is a 49ers fan.
“I’m letting it go because the 49ers aren’t in it,” she said. “We won’t be watching.”
For the past 15 years or so, Ed Learner and a few friends have spent Super Bowl Sunday doing anything but watching the game.
Usually, Learner, 58, an attorney from Cuyahoga Falls, and the group, goes tobogganing at Cleveland Metroparks’ facility in Strongsville early in the day. Then to avoid restaurants where the game might be on television, the group goes to a fast-food restaurant for dinner, because such places typically do not have TVs on.
After that, Learner and his friends will go to see a movie.
“No drinking place is safe,” he said of the chance of there being a TV with the game on.
Not a sports fan at all, Learner said the hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl in the days before the game is too much to take.
“The hype is on steroids,” he said.
Susan Estabrook Kolarik, 59, of Springfield Township, a secretary at Fairlawn West United Church of Christ, her partner, Pam Reid, and her mother, Ann Estabrook and brother, Jim Estabrook, will be watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet tonight.
“I am not a sports fan, though I enjoy seeing a good play,” she said. “And I love the Olympics, especially sports where skill and expertise is key, as opposed to people beating on each other.”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.