Eating, resting, working out how to not look like a dope at a party – there's just so much to get through for Irish people staying up for the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
Realistically, you're going to have to assume you won't be done with the game until 3.30am. Whether you are an American football aficionado or someone watching the sport for the first time, that's a big challenge. Fortunately, I've done this before and I've made every mistake imaginable so you don't have to. Here's how you get through the big one.
Don't be silly early
You can ruin your Super Bowl night as early as Sunday morning. Those not used to staying up all hours might well be tempted to lie in later than usual on Sunday morning. That's a rookie mistake. The only way you can adjust your body clock sufficiently is to stagger the changes over the days leading up to the game and, given this is going up on Friday evening, if you haven't started by now, it's too late. Get up whenever you get up on a Sunday morning. Don't force anything and keep it natural.
No energy drinks/excess coffee
This one, I mean. All you are doing when you load up on Red Bull, Monster, or all the coffee is burn through more energy faster. There is zero upside to loading up on these kinds of stimulants. If you want to make sure you have enough energy for the game, eat lots of fresh fruit during the day (don't worry: we'll get to the fun food). What you need is slow-release energy, the type of stuff that will keep you going through the long slog.
Respect the wings
Chicken wings are the perfect food to snack on throughout the game. With the right amount of salt usually in any sauce, you've got a go-to snack that will keep you regularly topped up throughout. Don't skimp when buying wings. Of all the snacks you can get, chicken wings don't mess around. If you buy cheap wings, you will get mostly bones, probably broken, and nothing to chew on. Be willing to splash out on good wings.
As for sauce, if you aren't being creative just go with Frank's Hot Sauce. Half and half that and butter makes a solid combo. Alternatively, there's a zesty marinade worth doing overnight if you are willing to put the work in on Saturday. Get a pinch of minced ginger and garlic (garlic salt will do if you are stuck). Lob that into a cup of soy sauce, two table spoons of honey, a liberal amount of chilli flakes, a squeezed lime, a lashing or two of rice wine vinegar, and stick it in the fridge overnight over your wings.
That amount should be enough for a baking tray's worth of wings. Increase the constituents proportionally depending on how many wings you want to eat. Just remember to prick the wings with a fork a couple of times each before applying the marinade or sauce. You want it to soak in.
Pace your drinking and not because you might get drunk
The bigger concern than getting too drunk during the game is getting too bloated. If you are pounding beers, particularly full-bodied ones, through the game you are going to get all kinds of fatigue – and fatigue is the enemy.
My go-to for Super Bowl night is Sam Adams. It's got enough flavour to keep you interested, enough body that you can take it slow, and not so much that you are going to feel like you want to explode into a bloody mess.
Tactically, I'd wait until the opening kick-off to crack open your first beer. That's a late start, it's a big ask, but this isn't a sprint and you still have plenty of drinking time. If you go with a six pack of Sam Adams, go one each for the first three quarters and one for the half-time show. Keep two in reserve for the fourth quarter. It's going to take longer than the other three unless the game is an absolute blowout so you will want that extra beer in reserve.
Salt beats sugar and dairy every time
Outside of wings, your best bet is nacho chips and guacamole all night long. Oh, you'll probably want some Gaviscon for when this is all over. It's not just about mixing sweet with savoury. Sweets and the like will just give you those short bursts you want to avoid while dairy, be it chocolate or cheese, is going to make you more tired or bloated.
A tactical bowl of vanilla ice cream is fine at the start of the fourth quarter to help with indigestion but wait until then and keep it simple. A small bowl of vanilla is all you need. The final quarter of the Super Bowl is only time to get creative if you are actually playing in it.
Just in case you want to go crazy
Now, some of you will willingly do crazy stuff with your eyes wide open and well aware that you will pay for it later. You want the pain, you embrace the pain, and you have not been forgotten by this corner.
Nor have you been forgotten by The Square Ball on Dublin's Grand Canal St. Behold:
— The Square Ball (@onthesquareball) January 31, 2017
That's not a sandwich, it's a joyous celebration of the idiocy you want to invoke. Firehouse bakery made the metre-long sub which is filled with cured smoked brisket, oak smoked turkey, frisee lettuce, beef tomatoes, Alabama white BBQ sauce, and Carolina mustard BBQ sauce.
“The initial inspiration was the guys in the kitchen were watching an episode of the Simpson's had a particularly large sub and with the Super Bowl, they don't do anything by half measures so we decided to go big,” said Pat McCarthy, manager of the Square Ball.
“Firehouse bakery were really enthusiastic about it as well. We did a test run and the ones we are using for Sunday have slightly less bread as the roll in itself is a huge amount of food. With the test run, it took 15 of us to get through it.”
Pre-orders for the sandwich sadly ended before this column's deadline and ordering on the night isn't an option. So for those of you seeking to do something silly that weren't early enough to order, I'll defer to the chaps at Epic Meal Time.
Oh, as for the actual game
For newbies, most people will happily help you with your questions unless they are awful people or you spend the entire game asking. There are lots of stoppages in this sport. Wait for them to work out what happened.
As for who to root for, I'll put it like this. The Falcons can count Gucci Mane, both members of Outkast, Ludacris, 2 Chainz, and Samuel L Jackson amongst their fans. The Patriots have Marky Mark. Root for the Dirty Birds ... that's Atlanta if you hadn't worked that out.