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Super Bowl Sunday Built a Nation of Fans

Super Bowl Sunday Built a Nation of Fans

Antique photograph from Lawrence, Kansas, in 1898: University of Kansas Football Team
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Tens of millions of people celebrate the Super Bowl every year on Sunday. Many people get together to watch a televised extravaganza that has evolved well beyond its roots as a sports event. Super Bowl is unlike any other American football game. Through sports, patriotism, entertainment, and advertising, it provides a glimpse into American society and culture. The Super Bowl’s origin are intricately woven into American society’s fabric and culture, reflecting the views and ideals of the country at large. For more than half a century, the Super Bowl has become American’s favorite sporting event and a cultural phenomenon, growing from its roots as a simple football championship game. It has, year after year, attracted tens of millions of spectators throughout the country and the world. 

Most Americans opt to watch the Super Bowl together with their friends and family as they celebrate the conclusion of the football season and crown a winner. Neither the NBA Finals nor the Baseball World Series draws as much interest. This might be because there is only one game played in the Super Bowl and the winner takes all. Even if you don’t like football, Super Bowl Sunday is still worth tuning in for the pregame and halftime shows on television. 


Super Bowl’s Historical Background: 

In 1960, American Football League (AFL) was established as the forerunner to the modern Super Bowl. The AFL was the creation of some renowned industrial investors who were disgruntled by the NFL’s reluctance to expand into new markets and wanted to form their professional football league. As a result of this newfound animosity, professional football eventually surpassed baseball as the most popular and broadly viewership sport in the United States. It took years of negotiation, but in 1966, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and AFL’s owner Lamar Hunt finally came to terms with merging the NFL and AFL. The merger took effect in 1970. Hunt proposed the name “Super Bowl” for the new game where He and Rozelle had hoped for a more creative name for the team before its maiden game in January 1967, but the name was already being used by sportswriters at the time. 

The chiefs of Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City played a match in Super Bowl I which was met with some excitement, but it paled in comparison to the excitement shown for recent games. The Los Angeles Coliseum did not have much capacity for this game. Michael MacCambridge who authored a book on professional football’s history observed that “fans just weren’t accustomed to go and watch the match at neutral grounds.” Though the Packers annihilated the City Chiefs, confirming the NFL’s dominance, the game nonetheless garnered 65 million spectators, a record for an American sports event. 

American football has no connection to the sport known as football anywhere else outside the United States. American football at the highest level has been dominated by the National Football League throughout the vast majority of the sport’s existence. The American Football League (AFL) emerged as an adversarial league in 1960, vying with the NFL for the best players. As the leagues considered merging, they settled on having their champion teams play each other once a year. The term “super bowl” was coined by one of the owners of AFL, a play on the name of the bowl-shaped stadiums that hosted numerous NCAA football finals.  

Since the two leagues joined in 1970 to become the National Football League, four Super Bowls had been contested between the American and National “conferences.” The Super Bowl was an annual football game between the conference champions from each league in the National Football League. 

In its early years, Americans didn’t put much stock in the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, the Super Bowl has evolved into much more than a sporting event; it is now extensively celebrated as an undeclared national holiday in US. Super Bowl Sunday, the first Sunday of February (when the game is played), is a day set aside for viewing parties at homes and public establishments alike. 

After the shocking victory of the New York Jets during the match played in Super Bowl III, there was a decline in the AFL’s reputation and the game’s popularity skyrocketed. Since the league’s separation into the AFC and NFC after the merger, the league’s best teams have met in the Super Bowl to determine the league champion. During the two-week break that occurred in between the games for each conference’s championship, there was a discernible spike in the amount of attention provided by the media. The Super Bowl had become such a massive event by 1974 that It was prophesied by Norman Vincent Peale that “if Christ were still alive, he would be attending the Super Bowl.” 

Since the NFC was crushing the AFC in the Super Bowl in 1980s, Madison Avenue invested heavily to create spark and glamor for maintaining people’s interest in the sport. The new Macintosh computer was advertised in a 1984 advertisement directed by Ridley Scott. The advertisement, which was based on the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, depicted a lady using a sledgehammer to break a giant television screen that was showing propaganda from Big Brother. The advertisement premiered at Super Bowl XVIII and caused such a stir that major corporations in the United States began saving their finest spots for the big game. After all, there is no other occasion throughout the year that would be more appropriate to do so than in front of the nation’s greatest television audience. Additionally, placing players in order of preference became a popular spectator activity. 


The Growth Period with New Strategies: 

It was necessary to find a way to broaden the attractiveness of the game and attract a larger audience by expanding its scope beyond that of a typical football match because there was little to no competition and it almost always resulted in one person coming out on top. This has given it the reputation of being boring. They would not watch the Super Bowl if there was no sense of competition among the teams since Americans value competition highly. That’s why the NFL began putting on performances before the game and at halftime to distract fans from the boring action on the field. Super Bowl halftime presentations were originally very tiny performances, including university music groups and fading pop artists. 

The National Football League (NFL) had been building a new production template since Super Bowl XI in 1977 when it collaborated with the Walt Disney Company for the airing of a TV show which was given a name “It’s a Small World” would be broadcasted during the halftime break of the Super Bowl game. Since then, the NFL had used this format for all of its halftime shows. Subsequently, the scale of the halftime performances would increase. Super Bowl XXVII featured Michael Jackson, Super Bowl XXXVIII had Beyoncé, Super Bowl XXV featured Whitney Houston, and so on. Thus, the sports event itself has been relegated to the background and overwhelmed by other events such as television presentations, advertising, and concerts. What this demonstrates is the importance of entertainment in the United States. When it comes to both sports and entertainment, the Super Bowl is the marvelous and heart touching event. Although it has a similar level of popularity, its attention is not nearly as focused as that of soccer or basketball. In this setting, the game itself is everything, and there are no sideshows. Super Bowl LII is not nearly as significant as, say, the Champions League Final. 


The Contemporary Era and the Importance of the Super Bowl: 

The modern Super Bowl has evolved greatly from its original form. The Super Bowl is more like a national celebration now than a football game. The Super Bowl, like other holidays, causes Americans to change their normal habits. Companies shut down as employees take time off to organize opulent celebrations. A unifying goal unites the crowds: taking part in the elaborate rituals that have evolved to mark the show. Super Bowl Sunday parties, which are a lot like Thanksgiving dinners, often include a lot of food and drink, such as pizza, wings, chips, guacamole, soda, beer, Bloody Marys, and other football-themed beverages. Patriotic decorations on Super Bowl Sunday are comparable to those seen on Independence Day or Veterans Day. 

Americans consider the Super Bowl to be something more than just a sporting event. It’s a day they set aside to celebrate with their loved ones and look forward to all year. The Super Bowl is seen as a spectacle on par with the Olympics, the royal wedding, or the Grammys because of its pre-match preparations and hard work that is spanned over the two weeks of unending efforts and enthusiasm. The Super Bowl is more than a one-game championship. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter whether you root for the Eagles or the Patriots; the game itself is what many Americans and their families look forward to every year. In other words, the Super Bowl has become a spectacular event that makes almost every American feel proud and happy. The Super Bowl is the most viewed show every year, which is not unexpected considering that football is the top popular activity in the U.S. 


Televised Version of Super Bowl: 

The Super Bowl game which was played between the chiefs of Kansas City and the San Francisco 49ers (Breech) in the winter of 2020 was broadcasted live throughout America and it was estimated that around 102,1 million people watched the golden moments of the game on TV screens. Spectacular live TV event. As there were only so many seats available, the game’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1970s as a result. The game drew a huge crowd, but most of them couldn’t attend because they couldn’t get tickets. The fact that the Super Bowl is traditionally played on a Sunday afternoon—a time when many Americans gather around the television set—also contributed to its meteoric rise to fame. That means the Super Bowl’s audience size and popularity could only increase. Super Bowl III and IV, both of which have been played for many years, are remembered for having the greatest audiences ever for a single television broadcast. The early statistics were promising, but the current ones are so high as to be nearly unbelievable. 

Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl XLIX both had more viewers than the ‘golden anniversary’ game’s final tally of 111.9 million. The televised 50th Super Bowl will join a long line of prior Super Bowls as the most-watched programs in the history of American television. 

It’s important to note that these statistics only apply to the United States. The National Football League would want the Super Bowl to be recognized as a worldwide event on par with the World Cup and the Olympics. This is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve since football is not widely recognized outside of the United States as a separate sport. Many people all around the globe like watching football, but nowhere else can you find the same level of anticipation for the Super Bowl as in the United States. According to a study published by the Huffington Post in 2016, millennials care more about the ads and the halftime show than they do about “the game itself.” Similarly, older adults place a greater emphasis on football at their Super Bowl parties than younger adults. This exemplifies the significance of the entertainment factor to Americans since many watch advertisements and halftime shows instead of the game itself. The advertising and halftime shows are essential to the Super Bowl as we know it today. For the casual observer, it would have seemed like any other football game. 


Advertisement Campaigns and Super Bowl Viewership: 

Americans take pride in seeing several brands and items advertised at different TV channels during the match break of the Super Bowl since material riches and a legacy of plenty are strongly ingrained in the national psyche. More and more companies want to air commercials when the halftime approaches and for this challenging task many advertising agencies earn hefty amounts of profits. Commercials in this price range tend to be clever and concise to appeal to a wide range of people. Super Bowl media coverage is massive, yet Americans apparently like and even seek out this onslaught of coverage. Advertising spots during the Super Bowl are highly sought after, with companies anticipating massive exposure. Advertisers are prepared to pay a high price because they know there is no greater audience than those watching the Super Bowl. 

TargetCast’s senior vice president and executive director, Gary Carr, refers to the supply and demand of Super Bowl spending. Every year, the spaces sell out before the big game, driving up the price. A critical mass will eventually be reached, but it might be quite sometime before that happens. No matter how much money is spent on a commercial which hardly continues for only 30 seconds during the Super Bowl, the event is crucial to the advertising business. After Apple’s famed “1984” advertisement made such an impression on the public in 1985, advertising charges skyrocketed to more than $500,000 for a 30-second piece. Due to this fad, the “Ad Bowl” emerged as a fiercely competitive marketing event to create the most innovative and effective commercial for the Super Bowl’s massive captive audience, which reached 111.9 million in 2020. 

In the ten years after the release of “1984”, the cost of a 30-second commercial went from $500,000 to $1 million. The cost to host Super Bowl 50 in 2016 was $5 million. Those who claim to watch the Super Bowl more for the ads than the sport say the Ad Bowl has contributed to this shift in attention. 

The Super Bowl Glory for American People: 

The Super Bowl’s rise to prominence may be traced in large part to the influence of American nationality, patriotism, and ideology. Cordova argues that by watching NFL games, football fans are essentially ingesting the American identity. Super Bowl parties are a big aspect of their social lives, and many credit them with helping them become more recognizable as Americans. Because of the importance of toughness, strength, individualism, and independence in both the game and in life, football serves as a metaphor for this identity. They hold the Super Bowl in the same regard as a religious holiday. It would seem that being a true American means nothing more than kicking back with your loved ones in front of the TV to watch the Super Bowl. According to Alverio, every football game is a big deal in the United States. Everyone has the same goal, and that’s to see their football team triumph. Whether it’s with loved ones or enemies, we always throw a big bash to mark the occasion. We are die-hard fans that purchase shirts, and swag, and even paint themselves in team colors to show our devotion. 

In a country without an official religion, the Super Bowl serves as a symbol of cultural tolerance and unity. The Super Bowl is a secular way of celebrating various aspects of American culture, beliefs, and people, yet its religious roots are evident throughout the event. The religious overtones of professional football games are less blatant. Super Bowl Sunday marks the astonishing combination of sports, politics, and mythology that has evolved in such a manner that sometimes it looks like a religious celebration for millions of American citizens. The Super Bowl successfully reunites these now-separate spheres of social life, much like festivals in ancient societies did not differentiate between the religious, political, and sporting character of certain events. The annual football game known as the Super Bowl is a terrific illustration of how Americans see their country and what they consider it to represent. A large number of people in the United States feel that participating in civic religion, which is synonymous with patriotism and watching the Super Bowl are two aspects of American identity that are inextricably related to one another. 

The Super Bowl is a manifestation of the six essential American ideals, which are individual liberty, self-reliance, fairness and equality, competitiveness, hard work, and material riches. NFL players face brutal competition, multimillion-dollar salaries, and a strenuous training schedule. Successful NFL players put in long hours in the weight room and on the field, serving as an inspiration for young people to adopt similar habits. Individualism and practice are the only ways to get stronger than the other team members. You can make it to the finals and even to the Super Bowl if you put in the effort and discipline necessary to get there. Players put up maximum effort and run for hours and miles in a single game, therefore preparation is essential. 

The Super Bowl is seen as a positive event by Americans, a way to display their patriotism, and a reason to gather with friends and family to rejoice, all of which fit well under the concept of American civic religion. 

A True National Holiday: 

Super Bowl culture is a window into American life and values. As a celebration of the ideals, traditions, history, and identity that make the United States unique, it serves as a powerful unifier and a real national holiday. Super Bowl encompasses much more than simply two teams battling against one another, as has been demonstrated via an examination of this major athletic event from the viewpoints of commercialism and consumerism, patriotism, the military, and culture. 

The Super Bowl is more than just a sporting event; it’s also a celebration of everything great about America, from its history and principles to its vibrant culture and vibrant people. Millions of people all across the world tune in to watch. While the on-field action draws in some viewers, the ads and halftime shows draw in others. Top companies pay big money to have their ads seen during the Super Bowl broadcast on television. The game has become more geared toward spectators’ wants and needs, reflecting the American obsession with consumerism and monetary success. It’s hardly surprising, given the pervasiveness of marketing in American culture, that the game itself might get lost in the shuffle when compared to the advertisements and the celebrity appearances. 

The Super Bowl is indeed a collective and comprehensive celebration of all things American and that it unites the country via shared viewing. The Super Bowl encapsulates all that is great about American life and culture into a single Sunday afternoon.


Edited by Michael Moss

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