Super Bowl Sunday: A Celebration of an American Sport

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The Super Bowl is the championship game of American pro football’s National Football League (NFL). It is played every February between the winners of the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The game is played in a different city each year, decided on by the league several years before the game.

A Short History of the Super Bowl

The first Super Bowl was played between the Green Bay Packers of the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. The Packers defeated the Chiefs by a score of 35-10. At the time of the first Super Bowl, these were two rival leagues. The NFL had been around since 1920. The upstart AFL began play in 1960. The two leagues announced a merger in 1966 and officially merged into the NFL in 1970.

A play from the Super Bowl I between Green Bay (yellow and green) and Kansas City (white and red)

During the first few years of the Super Bowl, the game wasn’t such a big deal. There stadium for the first Super Bowl was only two-thirds full, while tickets cost a paltry $12 (tickets to the modern Super Bowl can go for $5,000 and higher). However, the game, along with the Sunday of the game, has become a huge event in the United States. In fact, Super Bowl Sunday is almost like National Holiday.

Some of the more notable attributes of the Super Bowl are the parties during the game, the commercials, and the halftime show.

Super Bowl Parties

Many Americans gather together in bars, restaurants, or even at home to watch “the big game.” In fact, Americans eat more food on Super Bowl Sunday than any other holiday except for Thanksgiving. This includes an estimated 28 million pounds of potato chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and eight million pounds of guacamole.  

You might think that only diehard football fans would gather to watch the Super Bowl, but this is far from the case. Many of the people who come to parties to watch the game aren’t really there for the game at all, but rather to just have a good time. They also come to watch the commercials and the halftime show.

The Halftime Show

Halftime of the Super Bowl is when the teams take a break, and turn the stage over to the performers. The musicians who perform during half time are “A” List celebrities. Some of the more notable muscians that have performed at the Super Bowl include Prince, Madonna, and Beyonce.

While these halftime shows usually go off without a hitch, there have been some controversial moments during the shows, including the “Wardrobe Malfunction” during the 2004 game and the “birdgate” incident at halftime of the 2012 game. Both of these moments created a stir both during the game and in the weeks afterwards.

Super Bowl Commercials

Research has shown that a small but important group of people watch the Super Bowl just to see the commercials. Commercial airtime during the game is so valuable that advertisers must pay around $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime.

An image of the 2015 “Puppy Bowl”

Some of the more popular commercials over the years have included the “puppy bowl,” the tallking baby from E-Trade, and football player mean Joe Greene’s Coca Cola Commercial. Each year advertisers roll out the biggest and best of the commercials for the Super Bowl, and each year fans pick their favorite and least favorite commercials.

Why is the Super Bowl Such a Big Deal?

For one thing, the Super Bowl takes place in February, in the middle of winter. With Christmas and New Year’s in the rear view mirror and spring weeks if not months away, many American want a reason to celebrate.

Also, unlike other pro sports’ championships in the U.S., the Super Bowl is a winner-take-all game, with the winner of the single game winning the whole thing. Other sports like baseball, basketball, and hockey play best-of-seven game series to determine their champion. This difference makes the Super Bowl a tension filled affair, with both teams putting forth their best effort to win a single game.

Sources

Super Bowl Fun Facts

  • In odd numbered super bowls, the NFC is designated the “home” team, while the AFC team is at “home” in even numbered games
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, most of any team. The New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers have each won five Super Bowls
  • The Denver Broncos have lost more Super Bowls than any other team, having dropped five of the big games
  • The Super Bowl I halftime show? Two marching bands, trumpeter Al Hirt, two men in jet backs and 300 pigeons.
  • In Las Vegas, more than $150 million is bet on the Super Bowl each year

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