Party at the Anthem for NFL Draft

If you’re a good planner — and you’re lucky — you already have your tickets for Redskins Draft Night at the Anthem this Thursday.

Doors open for this big NFL draft party at 6:30 p.m. First up is the Redskins marching band, followed by the First Ladies of Football cheerleaders at 7. Several Redskins players will be on hand for the event, including Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Trey Quinn and Chris Thompson.

The evening’s host is popular Hot 99.5 DJ Elizabethany, also host of Hail to the Siblings, a podcast that focuses on interviewing those on the outskirts of the local football scene, such as a famous tailgate party host, legendary fans and wives of players.

Lending Elizabethany a hand will be Sunni from WPGC 95.5 and Bram Weinstein formerly of ESPN, now host of Fox 5’s Like it or Not.

The draft starts at 8 and will be broadcast live from Nashville, Tennessee. The Redskins have the 15th pick in a heavily weighted pool of defensive players. What many Skins fans are hoping for is a new quarterback to bring some magic back to the home team. Some have their fingers crossed for Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State.

This party will be a great opportunity to hang out with fellow Redskins fans, talk smack to rival NFC East fans and have a good time.

If you snoozed, you lost, because the tickets — free and limited to four per person — are already gone. Click here for updates to see if more become available.

 

Audi Field — Having Fun is the Goooooooal

For those of you who haven’t yet had a chance to visit Audi Field, the home of D.C. United, our own Major League Soccer team, let me assure you — it’s fabulous.

I got to go to my first MLS game there last week when D.C. United hosted Montreal Impact on Cherry Blossom Night, the first time a professional sporting event has been included in local festival celebrations. Attendees got a D.C. United/National Cherry Blossom Festival pin as well as the opportunity to buy special foods, beverages and commemorative merchandise.

I was quick to spot the drink carriers offering vodka and bourbon strawberry lemonades — so pink and pretty!

The concession stands offered a selection of imported beers, as well as sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs, nachos, burgers and cheese fries. If it sounds to you like Audi Field is all about traditional sporting event fare, it’s not. Local acclaimed Spanish chef Jose Andres teamed up with Audi Field to offer comidas deliciosas, including not just tacos, pupusas and quesadillas, but also hongos, tortas and arepas. Soccer is o jogo bonito (Portuguese for the beautiful game), so it’s fitting that we should be able to get some authentic Latin food while we watch Luciano Acosta — La Joya — and legendary superstar Wayne Rooney work their magic on the field.

Tickets for D.C. United games are usually between $20 and $40 (except for when they play LA Galaxy and fans want a chance to experience the greatness of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then they’re $60).

Before the 20,000-seat field opened last summer, D.C. United had to play at the run-down, 50-year-old RFK Stadium, now left sitting vacant with an uncertain future. Parking at the new field can run more than $50, so you might want to consider taking the Green line and getting off at Waterfront or Navy Yard — each almost a mile away. On game days, the streets are crowded with enthusiastic fans riding scooters and bicycles, whooping it up and taking over the streets.

While the game I attended ended in a draw, it was still so much fun to be at this fabulous new field, enjoying the food, drinks, crowd and atmosphere. Next time I have to figure out how to make my way over to the EagleBank and Heineken MVP Club sections …

Cheers to Beers and Baseball

The DC Beer Festival will be back at Nationals Park for its 8th year on Saturday, April 20th. You can celebrate craft beer by sampling cold ones from over 80 breweries from the DMV and beyond, including Monocacy, Old Bust Head, Fair Winds, Old Ox and more. See the full list here.

For an admission price of $45, attendees can sample unlimited beers, nosh on local eats (that’s extra $) and play lawn games. Entertainment includes DJs, a ’90s cover band and dueling pianos from Bobby McKey’s. You can choose one of two sessions: noon to 3 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m.

For those who want to go big or go home, there’s even an option for VIP access for $75.

These tickets get you access to the warning track and dugouts, a DC Beer Fest baseball cap, and a commemorative tasting glass.

Designated driver tickets (no sampling allowed) will be sold for $20 cash at the door. Designated drivers must be 21 and over. Children and dogs are prohibited from the event.

April showers can’t rain on this beer parade — the event will be happening rain or shine. So come out and pretend you’re hitting a home run while drinking an eclectic variety of beers. At the DC Beer Fest, we’re all winners.

Where to Indulge in March Madness

If you watch the NBA and think, “I guess this is cool, but these players are just too darn GOOD at basketball; I’m looking for something more along the lines of watching dudes play at the Y,” then you’re in luck! The final phase of March Madness is here, so pull up a stool and watch the suburban personal trainers and insurance salesmen of tomorrow get dunked on by guys who, best case, will be playing in China next year. Sound like fun to you? Yeah, me neither.

But guess what? There’s money involved, by which I mean gambling, by which I mean you’re going to lose all the money you gamble. But maybe not! (Keep telling yourself that.) And as underwhelming and, yes, mediocre as college basketball is, gambling can make anything exciting.

Or if that’s not your bag, how about bragging rights in your office bracket pool?  For God’s sake, someone’s got to break Vicky in HR’s winning streak. All she does is pick the top-rated team every year to win and she’s started calling herself a “tournament guru.”

Anyway, here are a few places where you can monitor your investment — er, take in the games.

FRANKLIN HALL

This massive Florida Avenue establishment has nine big-screen TVs, so no matter what game you want to be bored by, you can be sure it’ll be playing here.

They’re also running some pretty sweet specials; pints of Narragansett are $4, and liters (!!) are $8. Just reading the phrase “liters of Narragansett” gave me a splitting headache.

THE BLAGUARD

The runaway favorite for the annual “D.C. Bar with the Most Letters Obviously Missing from Its Name” award is running some truly insane specials during games — $3 Bud Light/Natty Boh, $6 Crown Royals and $6 Tullamore Dew vs. Tito’s.

Yes, it’s on 18th Street, and yes, the crowd can get a little, uh, intense, but come on — for $3 beers, I’d drink in an abandoned nuclear power plant, and you wouldn’t hear a complaint out of me.

THE MIDLANDS

This Parkview beer garden is showing every game of the tournament, and they have outdoor fire pits that you can fling your comically bad bracket into.

IVY & CONEY

Everyone’s favorite 7th Street baseball bar is also a decent place to take in some basketball games. They open at noon, so if you call in sick to work to watch the tournament, maybe call ahead to make sure your boss isn’t already there after doing the same.

Best part about drinking in a baseball bar is that if you lose your rent money betting on underdogs, you can make yourself feel better by starting a fistfight with some guy in a Cubs jersey by pointing out that simple demographic shifts in the U.S. population mean that baseball will probably disappear as a cultural force in his lifetime. (If that doesn’t do the trick, follow up with, “Actually, soccer’s already more popular.”)

 

Baltimore Looking Forward to Welcoming CIAA in ’21

Last weekend, Virginia State University became the CIAA Men’s Basketball Champions by defeating the Shaw Bears, 77-66, Saturday afternoon at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. That same day, Virginia Union University won its second consecutive CIAA Women’s Basketball Championship, 75-41.

This yearly, weeklong CIAA celebration is a party that many on the East Coast look forward to. Tens of thousands of alumni, families, celebrities and sports fans in general flock to this event, attending reunions and hitting parties, restaurants, shows, live music events and more in between games.

Locals in the DMV are excited that the tournament will be moving to Baltimore in 2021. Charlotte has been home to the CIAA for 13 years, but next year will be its last, when the tournament, held among smaller Historically Black Colleges and Universities from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, heads north for at least three years. Originally named the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the organization was founded in 1912 when African-Americans were not allowed to play in other leagues.

Big Crowds

An article in the Baltimore Sun predicts tournament attendance of up to 150,000. As host, Charlotte has enjoyed an estimated $50 million boost to the local economy each year. Baltimore expects the tournament will bring 25,000 tourists per day to the city and will help sell 10,000 hotel night stays. These tourists will also spend money on restaurant meals, shopping and entertainment, adding to the city’s coffers.

Tournament organizers said they chose Baltimore over Norfolk, Va., and Charlotte, based in part on Baltimore’s accessibility, with BWI airport and Penn Station both nearby. The city, home to the Ravens and the Orioles, also has a strong base of sports fans as well as a large African-American population.

Bhlen.com is primed fill a void when the tourists come flocking to Charm City for this major event.

Rely on Bhlen

Bhlen (pronounced \‘blen\) is an innovative platform that connects both travelers and locals to a diverse array of events and festivities all year long. The first of its kind, Bhlen is an app designed to alleviate the inconvenience of finding things to do whether you’re home or traveling for work. Based out of the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, Bhlen will be the go-to source to find the big CIAA tournament week parties in 2021 and beyond.

With one of its co-founders being a proud graduate of a CIAA school, Bhlen is looking forward to welcoming the CIAA Tournament to the DMV, while making tournament parties easier to navigate for hosts and patrons.

 

Super Bowl or Fair-to-Middling Bowl?

At some point, I became that which I hate most: a person who doesn’t watch a single football game all year, who doesn’t even follow what’s happening in the NFL, but watches the Super Bowl.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching football. And there’s nothing wrong with not watching football. But watching only the Super Bowl bespeaks a certain kind of desperation. It makes it seem like you’re afraid of missing out. Missing out on what?

Something super, obviously. Which is ludicrous, because if you’ve ever watched a football game (and I’ve watched one a year for the past 10 years), you know that nothing super ever happens. Mostly it’s fat guys running into each other and then falling down. But I continue to watch the Super Bowl (maybe the name’s ironic?) for two reasons: because I bet money on it, and because it’s terrible.

Let’s address the betting first. The Super Bowl has this thing called “prop bets,” which are all these random events that you can bet on, many of which aren’t even sports-related: whether the national anthem will be longer than, say, two minutes, what songs the halftime performer will sing, etc. You do some research on each one (i.e. 10 minutes of Googling), place your bets, and sit back.

Money won from betting is so much sweeter than money you earn. When you get a paycheck from your job, you know deep down that all you did for that money was physically show up to an office, restrain yourself from yelling obscenities at your co-workers, and maybe fiddle around with an Excel spreadsheet from like 4:40 to 5 p.m. every day. You didn’t really earn that money; that money is more like a bribe that society is paying you to not become the Unabomber. But gambling money?! Betting is a multi-billion-dollar industry whose entire reason for existence is to separate you from your money. Outsmarting those people and their algorithms is extremely satisfying.

“Oh, but you didn’t outsmart anyone; you just got lucky,” people will say. Yes, but getting lucky means the universe wanted me to win that money. The universe was on my side. That’s what luck is. And that’s the real reward of the gambler; knowing that, for a moment, your intentions and the universe’s intentions were perfectly lined up.

Unfortunately, getting to that moment of perfect harmony requires you to watch about three hours of fat guys running into each other and then falling down. And the game itself isn’t even the worst part of it. No, the worst part is everything else.

Credit: Staff Sgt. Christopher Bolen

The Super Bowl always starts out with a conspicuous display of patriotism; literal troops waving literal flags, and sometimes even literal bald eagles trained to swoop down out of the sky at the anthem’s crescendo. What does patriotism have to do with football? I have no idea. If I was cynical, I’d say it was pandering. And it doesn’t stop there.

The commercials — oh Lord, the commercials — are even worse. Never mind the “funny” ones (they’re never funny) — the worst ones are the Very Serious ones.

It’s always a car or beer commercial. It starts with some artfully filtered footage, often in slow motion, a montage of some sort, with a voice-over from a famous actor solemnly reciting various Hallmark-card quality sentiments about Family and Country and Community and Love and Courage, etc. Then at the end, you see, something like a bottle of Coors Light. And you’re sitting there angry, actually angry, not only because you let a stupid Super Bowl commercial get on your nerves, but because the sheer quality of the pandering — low, sloppy, barely trying — is actually insulting to your intelligence. They thought that was going to get me to buy their stupid beer? But when you turn to Meg from HR to say that, you see she has a single tear rolling down her cheek.

“That was a good one,” Meg says.

“Yes, Meg, that one was pretty good,” you reply.

Then comes halftime, when a not-very-good band plays not-very-good music, and since they’re performing on a portable stage wheeled out into the middle of a football field, they also have paid audience members rush out onto the field and gather around the stage and “cheer.” And you can tell from the frozen grins on their faces, and the mechanical way they wave their arms, that in the Paid Audience Member contract they signed, it almost surely said something like, “If you are filmed on camera not smiling or waving your arms at a rate slower than twenty (20) oscillations per minute, Super Bowl LLC reserves the right to withhold payment.”

And it occurs to you that you’re basically the same as those fake audience members, looking on without any real interest or joy, except you’re not even getting paid. And you hate yourself.

But then this is also part of the reason I watch the Super Bowl. Because if this kind of thing still infuriates you, at least you know you haven’t totally lost it yet. Nothing against Meg from HR — she’s a perfectly pleasant woman — but let’s be honest, there’s a reason her husband left her last year for a woman who sells essential oils on Facebook.

And that’s the Super Bowl. It’s like a three-hour field trip to the Real America (which is also the Worst America), and at the same time, if you’re lucky, you can make some money off it. For example, this year, the national anthem is a lock to go long. Gladys Knight is singing it this year, and if you think she’s not going to milk it, you’ve never watched her on “Hollywood Squares” in a dentist’s waiting room. Brevity is a four-letter word to Ms. Knight. Bet the farm on the over. (You’re welcome.) Brevity is a four letter word to Ms. Knight. Bet the farm on the over. (You’re welcome.)