Super Bowl Sunday: How the US Does Football

This year’s Super Bowl is scheduled for February 2nd. Along with the athletic competition, Super Bowl XLVIII promises to offer up all the bombastic pageantry and media-blitz entertainment that Americans have come to know and love over the last forty-eight years. For die-hard fans and casual viewers alike, the Super Bowl has come to be recognized in the U.S. as an event akin to a national holiday, and attracts millions upon millions of viewers each and every year. What may seem strange is that the Super Bowl has the allure to attract viewers are don’t even identify themselves as sports fans. The culture of the game involves many different forms of celebration, and the celebration has many traditions.


Food: On average, Super Bowl fans will consume 1.23 billion chicken wings,  325 million gallons of beer, and 11 million pounds of chips on game day (1). The festivities call for all manner of snacks, however, and an entire industry has been built around preparing food and drink for the Super Bowl Sunday celebrations. Cooking shows feature a plethora of recipes for game-day fare (2), most of which involve finger foods and high-calorie treats, and the sale of antacids soars to accommodate the widespread indigestion many fans will experience. It may seem like a gluttonous pastime, but keep in mind that food and drink are very often a communal activity, and the sharing of tasty treats on Super Bowl Sunday is an activity that friends gather for and contribute to, often making it friendly contest to see who can offer up the tastiest football goodies.


Commercials: A total of $262.5 billion dollars was spent on advertising during the Super Bowl last year, with a total of $1.85 billion spent in the last ten (3). For advertisers and marketing firms, securing a 30 second slot during the United State’s most televised sporting event is the equivalent of finding King Arthur’s Holy Grail. With a conservatively estimated 100 million viewers, Super Bowl ads have one of the largest captive audiences in the history of mankind. In terms of effectiveness, commercials generally tend to use humor, such as the 2013 Doritos ad featuring the sale of a goat with a Doritos addiction (5), or an appeal to the consumer’s sympathies, such as the the 2013 Budweiser Clydesdale ad (6).  With respect to the high production value and the captive audience to which these advertisements appeal, Super Bowl ads have generated their own celebrity in the past few years, with many ads being “leaked” via short trailers to the public days before the game take place.


Community: People gather for the Super Bowl, coming together in numbers almost as large as those seen on Christmas and Thanksgiving. With respect to estimated 100 million viewers, the game is broadcast to 52 million households, meaning that watching the game alone is rare (7). When compared to the statistics of the total population,  60% of United States citizens claim to be football fans, meaning that the number of viewers who watch the superbowl outweighs the number of people who claim to like football. Hence, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the Super Bowl has more to offer the casual fan or the viewer totally uninterested in football any other time of the year something more than just a sporting competition (8). The sporting event is more about the pageantry and spectacle than the actual game itself, and even those whose favorite teams are not featured still managed to find time to sit through four quarters of football on Super Bowl Sunday.


Fortune: The average cost of a ticket to the Super Bowl in 2014 is $3,934, a typical 30 second ad spot during the game sells for over 3.5 million dollars, and a hotel room in the city in which the game is held will run upward of $1000 at a budget hotel(9). Players who participate in the game make anywhere from $44,000 to $88,0000 just for showing up, and it has been rumored that people have paid as much as $20,000 for a single ticket to the game. On the whole the collective costs of all the varied aspects of game day is tough to calculate, but it is somewhere in the billions of dollars, making it one of the most expensive and enriching sporting events in the world next to the Olympics and the World Cup.


But enough about the numbers, whether you are a diehard football fan, a lukewarm watcher, or have no idea how the game is played, the Super Bowl has a little something for everyone. It is a time to gather with friends and scream at the television, even if you have no idea why you are yelling. As always, please enjoy Super Bowl Sunday responsibly and safely, and if you’re going to partake in the game day treats, make sure to have plenty of Tums on hand.

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