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  • Watch the Super Bowl on Sunday? It's going to be difficult for the workers at Ian's Pizza.
Watch the Super Bowl on Sunday? It's going to be difficult for the workers… (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
February 02, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

Get ready to fill up on wings, guzzle some beers and slap a few high-fives. Super Bowl Sunday is approaching.

It's undoubtedly the biggest TV event of the year—the 2011 game set a record for the most-watched U.S. program of all time, according to The Nielsen Company—but not everyone will be on the couch for the showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Giants on Sunday afternoon. Consider the plight of restaurant workers, airline travelers and football followers otherwise unable to watch it as it unfolds. RedEye checked in with such unlucky fans to see how they plan to take in the main event.

Inside a hot, tiny kitchen at Ian's Pizza in Wrigleyville, cooks will be craning their necks and straining their eyes to see any game action. The Clark Street pizza spot has one small TV mounted above a register so customers can watch the game, but the cooks have to catch a play in the reflection of the TV in the windows.

"That's the one day we have that turned up all the way," manager Mike Wood said. They'll also rely on regular dispatches from people out front, he said.

Still, workers won't have much time to take in the game during crunch time Sunday: typically before kickoff and at halftime. That's when party hosts are most likely to order pizzas and bargoers are to come in for a slice.

The scene at Ian's plays out in similar ways at bars and restaurants across the country. Food industry workers collectively will be filling orders for 48 million Americans who are expected to get takeout. Another 12 million customers are predicted to watch the game at a restaurant or bar, according to The National Restaurant Association.

As far as the delivery drivers, Wood said, they have it easy: "They're in the car and can turn on their radio."

Who else might have a tough time catching the game? Airline travelers, who for the most part are out of range to catch televised or online updates, unless they're at the airport bar or flying with a company that provides live TV or an Internet connection.

Southwest Airlines, for example, is equipped with WiFi so passengers can get updates from their electronic devices. And pilots have been known to update travelers during sporting events such as the Super Bowl, according to a spokeswoman for the airline.

New York-based airline JetBlue offers fliers live TV on individual seat-back screens. The airline plans to celebrate the Super Bowl with $1 alcoholic drinks during game time and free buffalo wing pretzel snacks.

Other globe-trotting fans might not have that luxury.

John Enos of Rogers Park will be out at sea on a four-day singles cruise to Mexico and Key West. He has no idea if the cruise ship will have Internet or WiFi so he can at least check the score online.

"If they have a TV showing the game at a bar on the ship, I'll be watching it if I can," said Enos, 47, an Internet technology administrator.

Just in case, he plans to DVR the game so he can watch it when he returns Monday. "Knowing my luck, I'll miss it and it'll be the greatest game ever and go into overtime," he said.

If he wasn't on the cruise, he said he'd be hosting a Super Bowl party, grilling food and snacking on his chili dip. But he had a "total brain freeze" when he booked his first cruise in November.

"I didn't even stop and look at the calendar," he said. "I would have been really upset if it was the Bears." | @lvivanco

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