Originally created 01/26/03

Super Bowl hazards



It's no secret that Super Bowl Sunday has produced its fair share of horrific injuries. During its 37-year history, professional football's championship game has seen all manner of breaks, sprains, concussions and contusions.

But there is another side to the Super Bowl. A dark, ugly side that people don't like to talk about. When professional athletes take the field, they do so understanding there is a certain amount of risk. But what about the fans?

For every athlete who endures a stretched tendon or strained muscle on the Super Bowl field of battle, there will be countless fans taking their own beatings. Football is dangerous,my friends, dangerous indeed.

Fortunately, many of the injuries suffered by football fans can be prevented. The secret is education and awareness. Being alert to the inherent risks of a Super Bowl Sunday often is the best defense. Here are some of the common calamities that often befall armchair quarterbacks and some suggestions for avoiding them.

THE CORN CHIP CHOKE: Corn chips have sharp corners - sharp corners just aching to grab onto some tender throat flesh. But for some reason, football fans overlook this obvious hazard, carelessly shoveling handful after handful into hungry mouths. The result - the inevitable Corn Chip Choke.

Solution: Soften those puppies up. Let your chips soak overnight before serving. The traditional soak is a watery domestic ale, but a healthy alternative, such as prune juice or soy curd, also is acceptable.

THE LUSTFUL THUMB: Joe Average can find halftime difficult. On one hand, the prospect of watching a slinky star wriggle her way through a sultry song-and-dance number has its appeal. But on another network, crafty programmers will be offering the Seminude Celebrity Reality Fear Challenge, or something along those lines. The result often is frantic flipping from one channel to the other, causing acute repetitive-stress trauma. The strobelike flashing from one channel to another in quick succession has also been known to cause seizures.

Solution: Since two quarters of hard-hitting football action probably have raised testosterone to a dangerous level, the safe approach is to find something calming, something that will restore a little living room balance. Costume dramas always are a safe bet. Nature shows also will work, though it's important to avoid anything dealing with mating habits.

THE BALL BRAWL: The truth is, post-Bowl touch football games should be avoided at all costs. The heroic runs and receptions that make a pro pigskin matchup interesting can frankly be dangerous for the wide receiver more accustomed to beer on the end table than balls in the end zone. But the temptation is hard to resist. Just as Wimbledon turns the world into Andre Agassi acolytes every June, so does the Super Bowl bring out the inner Joe Namath. And though the occasional play-produced sprained ankle and twisted shoulder are often the result of these games, they are not the most serious threat to football fans' health and welfare. Instead, it is the broken noses, the black eyes and the cauliflower ears that result from end zone debate gone awry. The inability to remember whether the apple tree or the end of the boxwood marks touchdown territory has instigated countless altercations.

Solution: Clear delineation of the playing field. It takes a little effort, but four or five weekends with a lawn mower, laser-sighted surveyors tools, several cases of spray paint and goal posts purloined from the local high school ("But officer, they weren't using them."). Certainly those are hours you'll never get back and your neighbors may sic their dogs or the police on you, but isn't friendship worth it?

THE NAUGAHYDE STICK: Though wearing shorts in January is not a good idea, every Super Bowl party has that one guy that shows up in suitable summer attire and plants himself in the comfortable faux-leather recliner. The problem arises when, after an impressive play by his team of choice, Johnny July leaps from his seat for an impromptu victory dance. You see, skin sticks to vinyl and the end (no pun intended) result is often a nasty abrasion.

Solution: Preventative medicine is no farther than the kitchen. A thin coating of butter, applied to the sitting surfaces of all your furniture, will keep friends and family out of this sticky situation. Of course, now the problem becomes keeping them from slipping onto the floor.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.