The Super Bowl is quite simply one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Watched by millions of people worldwide, this championship game of the National Football League has even been dubbed by some as a de facto United States national holiday. After Thanksgiving Day, it is the second-largest day for food consumption in the U.S., so this opinion is easy to argue. Helping to make the Super Bowl the grand spectacle that it is are its commercials and its halftime shows. Due to the high viewership of the game, commercial airtime during the annual broadcast is the most expensive of the year. The halftime shows feature some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
Super Bowl History
American football has been around for a while. The sport evolved from early forms of rugby and soccer, and its first game was played on November 6, 1869. This original game was quite different from the American football that we know today and pitted Rutgers versus Princeton. As the sport evolved, the rules changed, as did such things as uniforms and safety measures. While American football has a rather long history, the first Super Bowl wasn’t played until January 15, 1967. It featured the champions of what were then two separate professional leagues – The National Football League and the American Football League. Prior to this game in 1966, these leagues agreed to a merger. The merger wasn’t actually completed until 1970, though the Super Bowl had already been born. The legendary former owner of the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Hunt, was the first person to use the term "Super Bowl." The trophy that is awarded to the winning team, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, is named in honor of the great former coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi.
Super Bowl Winners
Super Bowl Winners Image: LearningLark (flickr)
The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls. This caused some team owners to fear the eventual merger of the National Football League with the American Football League. Quite simply, there was a developing belief that the competitiveness of AFL teams was inferior to NFL teams. This all changed when the AFL’s New York Jets defeated the NFL’s Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III on January 12, 1969. The quarterback of the Jets at the time, Joe Namath, famously guaranteed the win three days earlier. Since the Super Bowl’s inception, no team has won the grand game on more occasions than the Pittsburgh Steelers. They currently lay claim to six Vince Lombardi Trophies. At the time of writing, the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers come in second with five victories each, while the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have both won the Super Bowl four times. A total of 13 other NFL franchises have at least one Super Bowl victory.
Super Bowl Sunday
Super Bowl Sunday Image: StephenLukeEdD (flickr)
The de facto American national holiday that is the Super Bowl is commonly referred to as "Super Bowl Sunday." This reflects the fact that the game is always played on a Sunday. Around the United States and beyond, people gather to watch the Super Bowl, most often consuming copious amounts of food and beverages. You don’t have to be an ardent American football fan to enjoy the grand event, it should be noted. The aforementioned commercials and halftime shows also lend to the spectacle. The game is so popular that churches around the country have even been known to cancel their afternoon or evening services on the day in question. For those who wish to attend the game in person, there are Super Bowl travel packages to consider. These travel packages can include not only Super Bowl tickets, but also such things as transportation and lodging. There are even Super Bowl travel packages that include admission to VIP parties.
Super Bowl Halftime Show
Super Bowl Halftime Show Image: Center-Grove-Trojan-Band (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0
There is no denying that the Super Bowl halftime shows help to increase the viewership of the annual game. Over time, they have become fundamentally linked to pop culture, featuring well-known recording artists and other high profile celebrities. One of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows occurred in 2004 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Produced by MTV, it featured Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake as performers. What helped it achieve fame was a controversial "wardrobe malfunction." During the performance of the song "Rock Your Body," Justin Timberlake tore off a part of Janet Jackson’s clothes, revealing a bare breast that was adorned with nothing more than a nipple shield. Many people reacted negatively to this notorious event, and among other things, it led to significant media headlines and FCC-issued fines.
Top image: JohnSeb (flickr)