How to watch the Super Bowl?
Or with the small group of people you have been holed up with during the COVID-19 pandemic. (One hopes you’ve been holed up.)
And with, you might think, a hint of disappointment, and not just because your favorite team isn’t playing in it. Unless, you know, you root for the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But who roots for the Buccaneers?
The game kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time on Sunday on CBS and its various platforms. Yes, many of us would like to watch in a sports bar with wings and beer and sloshing drunk people screaming and … well, actually, they sell wings and beer at the supermarket, and the company will be better.
But watching the Super Bowl will definitely be different this year, because everything is.
And the 2020 game was one of the last big events that wasn’t.
CBS Sports will broadcast Super Bowl Sunday
Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20, details of which you may have forgotten already because everybody knows last year feels like 15 years ago and also 15 minutes ago. COVID-19 has screwed up our sense of time, among so many other things.
But it was business as usual — a lengthy pregame show, happy hour specials in bars, parties at people’s houses. No protective masks. No need. Social distancing was reserved for 49ers fans sulking in the corner after their team blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.
And that was it. The Masters golf tournament was moved to Nov. 12. Baseball didn’t start for real till summer. The NBA was suspended in March and didn’t come back until October. The NCAA basketball tournament was canceled altogether. College football was a weird patchwork of COVID-19 dodges (or at least attempts) that never quite felt right.
For better or worse, the NFL soldiered on. Positive tests forced games to happen on weird days. A Tuesday afternoon pro football game wasn’t as big a treat as you might have thought, who knew? But the season went on as scheduled, and we’ve arrived at the end, right on time.
CBS Sports will broadcast the game, starting at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time with seven hours of pregame coverage. (You could watch “Minari” three times during that span.) Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will call the game. There will be all kinds of innovative broadcast gadgets on display, including use of the Venice camera, which we’ve seen some of this season. It gives you a kind of cinematic look, sort of a live-action version of the “portrait” setting on an iPhone — front and center in focus, background fuzzy.
In all, CBS will use more than 120 cameras and new angles and displays and whatnot. You can watch on regular TV or stream free on CBSSports.com or the CBS Sports app.
The Weeknd will be the halftime performer. Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan will sing the national anthem. Amanda Gorman will read a poem. H.E.R. will sing “America the Beautiful.”
Why watching Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will feel normal. But it’s not
It all sounds perfectly normal.
It’s fake normal. There will only be 22,000 fans in attendance, for instance, 7,500 of whom will be vaccinated health care workers who get free tickets. Many of the CBS employees working the game will do so remotely.
Two players for the Chiefs have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, after having contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. No one will be surprised if there are more, for either team, not when more than 26 million people in the U.S. alone have tested positive, and more than 440,000 have died.
Some people claim they watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. That’s going to be an unusual experience, too. Of course, there will be plenty of ads, but Budweiser, Coke, Hyundai and Pepsi — companies that have made memorable ads in the past — are sitting out this year’s game.
The same, only different. That could be the motto of the last 11 months.
Yet even an alternative version of the usual thing seems, if ill-advised, still welcome. As long as we remember that life will continue to be a jumble for a while.
But it’ll be nice to pretend, to spend a Sunday afternoon cheering for Patrick Mahomes to do something amazing, waiting for Romo to predict a play call and most of all hating on Tom Brady.
Because some things will never change.
What time to watch Super Bowl LV in Arizona
4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, on Channel 5 (KPHO); streaming on cbssports.com and the CBS Sports app.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: How to watch the Super Bowl, from the pregame and anthem to kickoff and the halftime show