I am speaking, of course, of the Puppy Bowl — the annual televised extravaganza on Animal Planet, which bills it as “the cutest sporting event of the year.”

What is it? Well, basically it’s a bunch of puppies running around a miniature football field, being adorable. That’s pretty much it, though it also features some pseudo-sports entertainment elements like color commentary, player bios, and a half-time show featuring adorable kittens.

I’m a longtime football hater (sorry, Ed Kilgore!) and a dog lover, so for me, this has become my yearly Super Bowl alternative. The Puppy Bowl is always loads of fun to watch, but what I like most about it is that it’s a pet adoption awareness program. All the animals in the show are available on Petfinder.com (though I believe all or most of the pups have been adopted by the time the show airs).

Kickoff time for the Puppy Bowl is 3 p.m. EST, though it will also be rerun continuously after that, until midnight or so. You can find out more about the Puppy Bowl via this handy guide on Forbes.com. And you can have a peek at this year’s Puppy Bowl starting lineup here.

Finally, here’s a video excerpt from a past Puppy Bowl. I wasn’t able to embed any of the most recent videos.

YouTube video

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Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee