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Super Bowl at the White House: A Family Affair in 2012

Annie Leibovitz/Official White House Photo(WASHINGTON) -- There won’t be a flashy Super Bowl party at the White House this year.

After three consecutive years of playing host to dozens of members of Congress, cabinet secretaries and Hollywood stars to watch the big game, President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, have decided to go low-key.

They plan to “watch the Super Bowl together as a family in their home,” a White House official told ABC News of the Obamas. No further explanation was given.

The While House Super Bowl bash had become a tradition, with the event doubling as something of a reward for members of the administration and their families, a chance to recognize the service of military veterans and their families, and encourage goodwill between members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.

Some celebrities have also been known to attend, including actress and recording artist Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony in 2011.

But the burdens of entertaining for the Sunday evening football championship—which reportedly weighed on the president and first lady early on—appear to have finally led the Obamas to opt for what they say they love best: quality time alone.

“We’ll probably watch it at home. It’ll probably be a quiet Super Bowl this year,” Michelle Obama told Rachael Ray of the family’s plans in a recent interview on Ray’s TV show.

The first lady reportedly questioned the lengthy guest list of the grand Super Bowl party planned in early 2009, according to the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor in her book, The Obamas. And the president, Kantor writes, was more interested in the game than his political guests.

“‘He is not someone who is going to hold a Super Bowl party and spend the time talking, greeting, delivering messages, working,’ an aide observed,” Kantor wrote.

Some White House aides, according to Kantor, even questioned whether it was a mistake to start the tradition in the first place.

“At least one of the party planners wondered if they should have kept the gathering entirely private—Barack Obama had only so much patience for official entertaining, people would expect a similar Super Bowl party the next year and the next year, and, once an event migrated from a private event to a political one, it was hard to take back,” Kantor wrote.

But take it back they did.

Michelle Obama told Ray that the family will likely watch the game over a plate of nachos and a side of guacamole, favorite Super Bowl snacks.

As for who the first family may be rooting for, President Obama told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he “can’t call it” because he risks getting into trouble.

“When the [Chicago] Bears are not involved, I can’t make predictions because I will get into trouble,” Obama said last month, referring to his favorite hometown football team.

“But both are great teams,” he said of the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. “[The Patriots' Tom] Brady [is] obviously one of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. [Giants quarterback] Eli Manning [is] playing as well as he’s ever played, and it’s going to be a fun Super Bowl.”

Obama won’t remain out of the spotlight entirely on Sunday, however. He’s sitting down for a pre-game chat with NBC’s Matt Lauer, continuing a practice of giving an interview to the game’s hosting network in each of past three years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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