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Why the Super Bowl is such a huge event in the US

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Super Bowl stadium
Super Bowl stadium. [Credit/talksport.com]

Super Bowl

Super Bowl players ready for a match. [Credit/cnbc.com]

The Super Bowl is the NFL’s championship game and the biggest event of the football season. NFL teams strive all fall long to earn the right to be one of the top two teams invited to participate and Super Bowl Sunday is regarded as an unofficial holiday in the US even if it may not be noted on any calendar.

The Super Bowl is typically the most-watched program in America. The matchup between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks in February 2015 was seen by more than 168 million people, making it the most-watched show in American history, but that record was beaten two years later when   172 million viewers watched the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 30-28. In the weeks ahead of the game, millions of fans study the Super Bowl odds and try to pick the winner.

But why has the Super Bowl become such a big deal in the US? It is hard to point to just one factor, so here are some of the main reasons why US sports fans love the NFL championship game.

 The commercials

 The commercial breaks during a sporting event are rarely considered by most fans, apart from those that take place during the Super Bowl. The reason for this is the extraordinary cost of ads broadcast during the Super Bowl. The cost of a 30-second spot in last year’s Super Bowl was over $5m. That means companies pull out all the stops to ensure that they produce the best possible ad which leads to must-watch television. Indeed, some viewers tune in mainly for the ads!

 The national anthem

We’re used to hearing the Star-Spangled Banner before sports events, but there is something different about the Super Bowl version, as it feels as though the whole country is together to hear it. There is also considerable speculation each year over which singer will have the honour of singing the national anthem to the Super Bowl crowd. Over the years, there have been some memorable performances, including Whitney Houston in 1991, Luther Vandross in 1997 and Mariah Carey in 2002.

The close finishes

Super Bowl ball

Super Bowl ball. [Credit/today.com]

The pressure and tension of the Super Bowl mean it is a game like no other and it produces some remarkable performances as the players from both teams strive to leave everything on the field. The result is that the game often remains competitive to the final seconds and there have been many close finishes over the years. San Francisco 49ers last-minute win at Super Bowl XXIII, the Titans coming within inches of winning Super Bowl XXXIV and the Pittsburgh Steelers snatching victory in the final moments of Super Bowl XLIII are just some of the many thrilling late finishes the game has seen over the years.

 The food

 US sports fans who make New Year’s resolutions to improve their diets are tested every February as the Super Bowl is the occasion for a festival of food. In fact, Super Bowl day is second only to Thanksgiving in terms of food consumed. Whether you choose hot dogs, burgers, chicken wings or nachos, the Super Bowl’s four hours of drama is the perfect backdrop to eating and drinking. Some figures suggest that over 50 million cases of beer are also drunk during the game.

 The halftime show

 The halftime show at the Super Bowl has become a cultural event that matches the football for audience interest. The tradition of having a globally famous performer entertaining the crowd at half time instead of the traditional marching band goes back to the early 1990s and a memorable performance from Michael Jackson. Since then, the Super Bowl halftime show has provided many spectacular shows, including jaw-dropping performances from Prince, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce and Destiny’s Child, Madonna and Katy Perry, and anticipation ahead of the event is as high as for the football. 

 Novelty bets

Bookmakers also get into the Super Bowl spirit every year, offering a variety of unusual and occasionally ludicrous markets which serve mainly to entrap the unwary bettor. Every February, you can find markets based around which team will win the coin toss, which song will be performed first in the half-time show and even how many times the official commentators will say a certain phrase.

The Super Bowl is a global phenomenon and a fitting end to the NFL season, bringing together millions of people, including sports and non-sports fans in a rare moment of national unity to watch some of the finest athletes in the US compete for fame, glory and the honour of lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy.

A journalism professional with hands-on experience in radio and digital content editing and publishing. A team player who achieves work goals through teamwork and collaboration. Willing to learn and take calculated risks to get work done.

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