How do you field about the Super Bowl?

Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor

As a de facto national holiday, the Super Bowl has been celebrated and broadcasted in more than 170 countries for over 50 years (53 to be exact). Being one of the most-watched sporting events around the world, it has become an icon of American culture.


AFC and NFL merger


The National Football League (NFL) was formed in 1920, but the American Football League (AFL) was formed in 1960 as an alternative. Both the NFL and the AFL had support from their respective fans and players; however, they were always competing with one another for overall support and coverage.


As a compromise, the owners of the two leagues decided to merge in 1970 to form what we know today as the NFL. After the two leagues merged, the NFL split into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The champions of each now compete in the Super Bowl we watch annually.


The first Super Bowl was not until Jan. 15, 1967. It was not originally called the Super Bowl, but instead the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Super Bowl I featured the National Football League champion, the Green Bay Packers, and the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In an intense game, the Packers defeated the Chiefs by a score of 35-10.


The years that followed resulted in the NFC holding most of the victories over the AFC. From the 1980s – 1990s, the NFC won 16 of the 20 Super Bowls played. As the years passed, the victories across the two conferences were more evenly balanced, especially when Tom Brady joined the New England Patriots, helping them to attain their position as one of the best football teams in the AFC.


Halftime shows


The first few Super Bowls welcomed smaller, local musical numbers to the halftime stage, usually from high schools or colleges near the game’s venue.


The half time act has evolved into a mini-concert, where fans can see modern pop culture icons. Some of the most famous artists of all time–including Madonna, Beyonce, Coldplay, and Michael Jackson–have all graced stadiums around the country with their musical performances during the Super Bowl intermission. This year, Maroon 5 headlined the halftime show and rappers Big Boi and Travis Scott appeared as guests. The halftime show, unfortunately, received some backlash, as many fans deemed the musical acts as boring and underwhelming.




Just as the Super Bowl has become an essential part of American culture, the commercials have grown in popularity, right beside the game itself.


“I don’t even know when to get up and get food or go to the bathroom, because I don’t want to miss the game, but I don’t want to miss the commercials either,” Ben Steinberger ’19 said. And it’s true! The Super Bowl presents some of the most cutting-edge commercials of all time.


During the Super Bowl, advertisers and brands market their products and services in a manner unlike any other broadcast. Advertisers understand that more eyes are watching the commercials during the Super Bowl than any other broadcast; thus, the caliber of creativity and ingenuity is higher than typical advertisements. They aspire to create a buzz and generate discussion around their brands. Nielsen estimated that Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was the highest-rated television broadcast in U.S. history, where 114.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks.


Due to its desirable nature, airing time during the Super Bowl comes with a very high price. By the time of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, the price for a 30-second commercial held the price tag of $4.5 million.


This year’s bowl


This year’s Super Bowl was held on Feb. 3 and welcomed the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.


The Patriots defeated the Rams by a mere 10 points, and the final score was 13-3. The Super Bowl was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history, surpassing Super Bowl VII, where the score was only 14-7. The Patriots were the second winning Super Bowl team to score only one touch down, after the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, and the Rams became the second losing Super Bowl team to not score a touchdown, after the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. The Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman was the Super Bowl MVP.


CBS broadcast the game and attracted the smallest audience in the past 10 years.


Five Fun Facts


  1. The first Super Bowl cost $12 to attend, but it was the only Super Bowl that did not sell out.
  2. At 10 appearances, the Patriots have played more Super Bowl games than any other football team.
  3. The Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cleveland Browns, and the Houston Texans have never been to the Super Bowl.
  4. Roman numerals are used to identify the Super Bowl number because the football season runs into two calendar years.
  5. Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States, following Thanksgiving Day.
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