It remains to be seen whether The Weeknd will top 2020’s Super Bowl halftime performance by J.Lo, left, and Shakira. (Courtesy Pepsi)

It remains to be seen whether The Weeknd will top 2020’s Super Bowl halftime performance by J.Lo, left, and Shakira. (Courtesy Pepsi)

Don’t go to a Super Bowl watch party

Some local sports bars offer socially-distanced events


So the other day I’m on Scruff and this guy messages me from Belgium. My phone — ever the protector of my privacy —immediately suggests I watch some acrobatics finals in Antwerp on YouTube. I don’t know if you’ve seen these: Three muscled young men hoist a skinny fourth guy onto this totem pole of a formation, where the slender one proceeds to perform a single-arm handstand, doing the splits, while using the head of his teammate below for balance. I swear I thought the guy underneath would have his neck snap right off. I was enraptured. I started wondering: How are these routines judged? How long do they take to rehearse? And who makes those fabulous sparkly leotards all the guys wear? Maybe I can make sparkle onesies for them!

Sorry, I’m supposed to be writing about the Super Bowl, which airs Sunday. But you have to understand that as a gay man, this is as close as you’ll see me relate to overly padded burly guys chasing a ball up and down a painted field. I don’t get it. I thought maybe I was an archetypal joke because so much of me is stereotypically gay. If you see me at HiTops (2247 Market St.) during basketball season, I’ll typically shout “yasssss qweeeen” when something remotely interesting happens during a game.

But I asked a solid 20 people what they were up to and the vast majority said, “Oh, that’s happening this year? When is it?”

Yes it’s still happening. The Kansas City Chiefs are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I have no idea who either of those teams are, sorry, but I wanted sports-ball fans reading this—and perhaps rightfully irritated at me—to know that I at least opened a search engine before writing this column.

Kickoff happens at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and you can stream it online on a CBS or NFL app. Or you can go to a local bar, but make no mistake, I’m not recommending that. I would personally you didn’t go to a house party or a parklet and endanger the lives around you.

The other day someone told me I virtue signal in these columns about the pandemic, and I swear I don’t mean to. Namaste, you do you— if going home for the holidays made you happy, I’m glad! It certainly sounds better than spending them alone, like I did. But I can’t ignore our recent indefinite lockdown that appeared to me a direct result of COVID spikes from those family visits.

As a longtime club promoter, I can say with reasonable certainty that sports fans are among the most demanding, loudest and impassioned groups in a bar. They hug, they laugh, they yell, and they spit. I lived near one that relocated recently, and they had a TV facing outward on the street. It was easily the least socially distanced spot in the area.

Still, I checked in with a few local sports bars to see what they’re doing or even what’s allowed. The answer was murky. The Double Play Bar & Grill (2401 16th St.) closes at 3 p.m. “due to COVID” but still offers takeout specials: carnitas and rice, quesabirria tacos, pozole, menudo and breakfast burritos.

Fireside Bar (603 Irving St.) and Underdogs Tres (1224 Ninth Ave.) seemed unsure whether TVs were allowed per city guidelines.

“It has been a struggle having a sports-themed restaurant with all the restrictions. We do have a few TVs but nothing like we would want,” said Doug Marschke, an Underdogs owner, adding: “We will likely show the game on those, if allowed, but also manage the table time limit.”

Kezar Pub (770 Stanyan St.) definitely plans to show the game while “fully adhering” to social distance guidelines, owner Cyril Hackett told me via email.

“[We are] making sure everyone is staying 6 feet apart and wearing their masks/face coverings,” he said. “We will have four TVs outside showing the game. People will be seated at socially distanced tables.”

Hackett added the bar will serve its “world famous chicken wings” and prefers customers call in advance for those at (415) 386-9292. The cocktail special of the day is the “Tom Brady Touchdown” served chilled, although he didn’t specify what’s in it.

I spotted two proper patio gatherings, one a Facebook event by the United Irish Cultural Center (2700 45th Ave.), which offers a full bar and “special Super Bowl Sunday dining experience.” Seating is first-come, first-served, beginning at 1 p.m.

Trademark (1123 Folsom St.) texted me back saying its patio would have a “very limited” Super Bowl gathering, and it put a preference on reserving in advance. The minimum spend for two people is $100 and $200 for four people.

In advance of the game, I was sent a release from WalletHub—an online service offering free credit scores and reports—which put San Francisco as the 10th best city for football fans out of a survey of U.S. cities. Thank you, WalletHub! This reminds me when STORAGECafe told me San Francisco was the second-best place for artists. You know, I think San Francisco is a pretty special city. I can’t say I understand the PR gimmick where unrelated companies rank us in competitions that no one is paying attention to.

So instead I did a little research for more interesting statistics: Did you know that sex trafficking is a heightened concern during the Super Bowl? In the past two months, 71 men were arrested on prostitution-related charges as part of an undercover sting performed by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department, according to the Tampa Bay Times. And Tampa ranks 12th in the U.S. for number of calls per capita to the U.S. Human Trafficking Hotline, according to It’s a Penalty, a nonprofit focused on combating human trafficking.

Hard to switch tracks after those grim statistics — I’m really not going to be watching the game.

If anything interests me about it, it’s occasionally the greasy food, the overpriced commercials and the halftime show, obviously. It’s really hard to beat Lady Gaga’s drone-accompanied rendition of “This Land is Your Land” and descent into the stadium on cable suspension. Or Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, the latter then age 50, up on a stripper pole after an Oscar-worthy performance in “Hustlers.”

The Weeknd is said to be headlining this year’s festivities, which sounds fine, but I hope Ariana Grande makes good on rumors as the surprise appearance. For me, she isn’t as fun as Beyoncé or Madonna, but should make the show more interesting, I hope.

Saul Sugarman is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer and apparel designer.He is a guest columnist and his opinions are not necessarily that of the Examiner.

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