Are you ready for some fuzzballs? It's the Puppy Bowl!
Yeah, so are we. Forget the commercials, the less-than-witty banter from John Madden ... and, well, don't even bother watching the game. The real action on Super Bowl Sunday — the rough-and-tumble, fur-flying action — is at Puppy Bowl V. Airing on Animal Planet, Puppy Bowl has everything the Super Bowl does — referees, penalties, fleas — but more importantly, what it doesn't: namely a motley crew of adorable, fluffy puppies with big eyes and an endless supply of energy and cuteness. (You would never try cooing "Who's a good boy?" to Troy Polamalu, would you? He'd break your head open.)
As you may have guessed from the "V" after the title, this two-hour event is in its fifth year on the network, and gaining in popularity. Last year more than 8 million people tuned in for Puppy Bowl IV and its three consecutive airings, according to Multichannel News. Because really, who doesn't love puppies? We know there are some sad, lonely individuals out there who may not like dogs, but puppies? Everybody loves watching them tumble and bumble over each other, scoot around on their bellies after a chew toy, make doo-doo on the carpet ... OK, maybe not that last one, but luckily the Puppy Bowl is prepared for such an occurrence. If a puppy player relieves him- or herself on the "field," a timeout is called a referee comes is to clean up.
Otherwise the puppies are just allowed to be puppies. They run around, bite each other, play with toys, drink water (there are cameras everywhere following the action — even one at the bottom of the water bowl.) And these aren't just any puppies, either. Starting this year, each little cutie comes recruited direct from a local shelter, and are "free agents looking for a good home," according to Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl site. (Also on that site, you can meet the players, vote for your favorite, and meet Pepper the Parrot, who will be kicking the game off with her rendition of the National Anthem.)
And of course, don't forget to stick around for the half-time show, when the puppies hit the locker-kennels, and the kittens take the field. It's almost too much cuteness to take.
Puppy Bowl V starts at 2 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet, and will be reshown all night.
— Malavika Jagannathan, email@example.com, Adam Reinhard, firstname.lastname@example.org