Today is Super Bowl Sunday, perhaps the biggest unofficial holiday of the year. Millions of people around the country will tune in to see the Patriots and the Rams battle it out to see who will be this year’s Super Bowl Champion. I’ve been a big football fan since college, but what about the other millions of people who barely watch football? What makes the Super Bowl such a big, memorable event?
The Super Bowl started off small, back when the Packers played the Chiefs in the 1960’s. Over the decades it has grown into a huge event, a spectacle. The game itself is always my favorite part, but for others the commercials and the halftime show are the main attraction. Some people just love going to the Super Bowl party, where they can eat and drink with their friends and family. A lot of it has to do with the event being heavily commercialized and marketed. Many years ago the Super Bowl was just about the game, the best team from the AFC playing the best team from the NFC. Now the game itself is maybe half of the total event, with the commercials, commentary, and shows filling up the other half. Love it or hate it, the Super Bowl has become an important part of American culture.
The reason I’m analyzing all of this is because the Super Bowl reflects values we care about. Let’s talk about the game itself first. The game is epic and there have only been a few disappointing match-ups in recent memory. You have two teams who battled through a 16-game season and playoff bracket to get to the top. Out of a 32-team league only two teams can make it to the top and play under the big lights. That alone attracts millions of people, we get to watch the best of the best. You had to be amazing in high school football to get to the college level. And you had to be exceptional at the college level to get to the NFL. So you are watching the best football players in the world at the NFL level, and only one team can be crowned Champion each year. Players have dreamed of winning the Super Bowl since they were a kid, it is in the heart of every football player. We can all watch, feel, and appreciate that journey because, in a way, we all are pushing for our own dreams and goals. The best athletes in the world are playing their hardest, the climax of an emotional journey, and that is why the game is so damn enjoyable.
The other half is, of course, the spectacle. All the glitz, glimmer, and presentation that goes into it. We all love to be entertained. Companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise at an event that hundreds of millions of people watch. Over the years this has gotten bigger and bigger, with millions of dollars just going into the halftime show. Every year they get a bigger show with a star performer. The best commercials are made for the Super Bowl. I personally look forward to Doritos, Budweiser, and Coca-Cola every year because I know they always deliver big. I know plenty of people who just watch the event for the commercials, they could care less about the game.
The biggest reason the Super Bowl is such a big event is that it brings people together. All of the factors I listed contribute to it being a great, unmissable show. A lot of people may disagree with me, but about 1 in 3 Americans watch the Super Bowl. That’s a staggering number when you think about how busy people can be and what could be going on in their lives. In a country with such diversity in age, race, culture, and ethnicity, it is amazing that one event will be watched by a big chunk of the population. We love the epic showdown. We love the sportsmanship and heart that the players show. We love watching the funny, emotional, or just plain awesome commercials. We love watching the over-the-top halftime show. And maybe most importantly, we love watching the whole event with a fun group of friends or family, while we eat, drink, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. This is why the Super Bowl means a lot to me and over 100 million people each year.