It’s nearly here. On Sunday February 12th at 6.30 EST Super Bowl LVII will begin at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Kansas City Chiefs will be meeting the Philadelphia Eagles in this, the latest chapter of the biggest single event in the US sporting calendar.
But in the years since 1967 when the first one was held it has grown to be more than just a sporting event. It’s now more of a cultural phenomenon that is huge in America and also closely followed by football fans all over the world.
This year’s game is set to be the biggest ever, with possible records for the numbers of people looking to place a bet on Super Bowl as well as the number of TV viewers worldwide. But what is it that has made this into such a major spectacle and event?
The world is watching
Last year, almost 100 million Americans tuned in to see the LA Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals and achieve a narrow 23-20 victory. Worldwide, this figure stretched into the billions.
This is why the TV networks, who share the event on a rotational basis, are willing to pay around $1 billion a year to the NFL for the broadcast rights. With an expense like this, that still has to be paid in the years when other networks have the rights, it always proves to be worth it.
That’s because the advertising that surrounds it is another part of cultural phenomenon of the Super Bowl. A spot in one of the ad breaks today costs around $6.5 million and all of America’s major brands know they have to be in the game. They also spend huge amounts on making the single ads that will only ever appear in a single break.
It’s all about rivalry
Plus, just as the big commercial rivals like Pepsi and Coke and Burger King and McDonalds go head to head in the ad breaks, sporting rivalry is also what makes the Super Bowl great.
At the top level, it’s a contest to see whether the AFC or the NFC will emerge as the conquering conference. But there are also the rivalries between different teams that can come to a head on this Sunday in February each year.
It’s also where we can expect to enjoy some truly surprising results in which the underdogs come through to leave fans astounded and sportsbooks rubbing their hands at their good fortunes when favourites go on to lose.
The half time spectacle
Almost before speculation starts about who will be competing for the Vincent Lombardi trophy, people are trying to predict who’s going to feature in the half-time show. This year it’s Rhianna. The fact that she’s positioning this as a comeback moment after nearly six years out of the limelight gives an idea of just what a major event it is.
It’s also one that has produced some very famous moments over the years. Perhaps the most notorious one of these came in 2004 when Justin Timberlake “accidentally” pulled down Janet Jackson’s top to show off maybe a little more than either intended. The fact that this became such a major news story indicated just how much attention the half time show receives.
Another surprising feature is that artists aren’t paid a single cent in appearance fees for taking part. Instead, they receive a level of exposure that would be hard to get anywhere else – as Janet Jackson found following the 2004 incident!
Above all, it’s about patriotism
The one thing, above all others, which has turned the Super Bowl into such a cultural as well as a sporting event, is that it’s so quintessentially American.
No other country in the world can put on such a spectacle in quite the same way to celebrate its national sport.
Patriotism is especially brought to the fore with the singling of songs in the run-up to the game itself. Of course, there’s the national anthem and this year it will be accompanied by a Top Gun-style flyover to celebrate the 50th anniversary of women aviators in the US Air Force.
There’s also “America the Beautiful” – another perennial anthem that is sung in the stadium, along with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Both of these add hugely to the emotion and pride that the event can generate.
Plus, all over America families and friends gather together for Super Bowl parties. These may not be quite as significant as an event like November’s Thanksgiving celebrations, but they are still dear to many people’s hearts.
So it all adds up to an occasion that marks the end of one football season before spring arrives and baseball enjoys its own time in the sun. Then, come September, the whole cycle will begin again!
Leave a Reply