Non-fan Nato’s Guide to Super Bowl Rioting


As the 49ers head to the Super Bowl, San Francisco can’t stuff its excitement into a hemp messenger bag fast enough.

In one season, our City—Bill O’Reilly’s favorite punchline for everything fey and un-American—may defeat the nation in baseball and football. It almost makes me want to bring a rodeo to the Cow Palace so our Big Gay Rodeo can break records for team milking and bucking bronco.

Some people like sports, while I prefer to derive my sense of self-worth from my own achievements. But I don’t judge. I’ve studied sports fans. I speculate that what people really like is being fans. Once you start shouting at the television and talking up the achievements of millionaire athletes as “we,” you are not enjoying sports so much as the sensation of being a fan.

When the 49ers destroyed the Broncos in the 1990 Super Bowl, I watched the game at the now-defunct Scott’s Comics & Cards on 23rd and Mission, pre-dotcom boom, when the Mission was still the domain of recent immigrants, artists, and punks. Scott’s was like Cheers for headbanger comic book nerds. The Victorian next door housed legendary thrash-funk band the Limbomaniacs. When the 49ers won, rather than rioting, MIRV pushed an amp onto the window sill to blast some face-melting guitar. Then commenced a mosh pit in the middle of the street uniting jubilant skaters and cholos.

Based on my limited understanding of professional sports, when your team wins a championship, you have a constitutional right to riot. I don’t know much about sports, but I do know about protesting and riots. I’ve been marching and protesting and gesticulating angrily at scabs and cops since I was in diapers. By which I mean high school.

Helpfully, Mayor Lee has established the obvious connection between corporate sports-related mayhem and anti-capitalist mayhem. As the Mayor says, my expertise in Occupy protesting obviously translates to sports rioting. So that everyone gets the most out of a 49ers Super Bowl, here are tips from a non-fan for rioting for sports fans:

  • San Francisco police are on your side, and plan to start rioting with you as soon as they finish work. Unless you’re African-American, in which case they might shoot you. Or put you on BART so a BART cop can shoot you for them.
  • Tired cops are more dangerous than rested cops. Before you scream at a pig to fuck themselves back to Novato (aka Copland-West), pause to ask how much overtime they’ve done. If they’ve been at work for more than ten hours, yell “Go Niners!” and find a cop who’s still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
  • When confronting police, size does matter. If you’re a 104-pound malnourished vegan, adorable skinny jeans won’t suffice. Bulk up before the big game with a week of carbs and ribs.
  • Stretch. Apparently a good stretching program is the secret to the 49ers’ triumphs. Don’t pull a hamstring and have to sit out the fun while suffering through a therapeutic soak at Kabuki.
  • Hydrate, but pee first. Good rioting (and possible time in the klink) requires carefully calibrating your fluids. You don’t want to be blindsided mid-havoc wreaking by a dehydration headache. On the other hand, you also don’t want to load up on kombucha and have to ask politely to use the rest room at an Urban Outfitters you just razed.
  • Wear layers. The weather can change suddenly, and on occasions like this we’re especially likely to get doused with prosecco. Stay warm, bring a beanie, and be ready to adjust for weather swings.
  • If you must destroy property, make sure it warrants destruction. For example, leave the busted Corolla on Duboce alone and destroy a shiny SUV taking up two compact parking spaces. Don’t smash up local business or taxpayer-funded public assets like buses. Don’t trash your ride home. On the other hand, no one will cry if a foreclosure-happy bank gets a comeuppance.
  • Mayor Lee is encouraging business to cut down on hard alcohol sales. This is a great opportunity to showcase our fantastic local beers and wines. They’re not just for pairing with grilled rabbit and duck confit. They can be for blackout drinking and berserker rage too.
  • “The Pistol offense” and “shotgun formation” are metaphors.
  • If you run out of things to smash, bike on by the tony new SOMA pied a terre condo towers or up to Billionaires’ Row in Pacific Heights. Politely ask the doorman if you can go floor to floor like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. He’ll say no and then wink knowingly.
  • When flipping a car, lift with the knees, not the back. If you have any chronic pain or injuries that limit your ability to flip a car, try instead flipping a Vespa, Fiat, Segway, or fixed-gear bike. We riot in a manner inclusive of people with disabilities.
  • Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is the most vocal pro-gay marriage football player. In San Francisco, it’s totally ok to riot in solidarity with him, or to demand to make out with him. He’s CUTE!
  • On this day only, when someone shouts, “Who’s got it better than us?” the answer is not, “The 1%!”

Or, you could not riot. Make a poem or cartoon about the rioting you would have done instead.

San Francisco native Nato Green is the country’s only semi-functional hybrid of comedian, writer, and union organizer. In 2018, Nato Green released his second comedy album The Whiteness Album on Blonde Medicine Records, appeared in the film Sorry to Bother You, and lived in Cuba for six months. The Whiteness Album was named by NPR show Bullseye with Jesse Thorn one of the best comedy albums of 2018. Nato’s writing has appeared in the LA Review of Books, the San Francisco Examiner, In These Times, VICE, Truthdig, Huffington Post, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Rumpus, and The Bold Italic. Nato has been named San Francisco’s Best Comedian by the SF Weekly, Huffington Post, SFist, and CBS. More from this author →