Ivey: Super Bowl shows power of football
Michael Ivey | Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Last Sunday, the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX by a score of 28-24. It was a thrilling game, and many people are still asking why the Seahawks threw the ball on the one-yard line with the game on the line. The game was watched by 114.4 million people, making it the most-watched program in U.S. television history. It broke the record set by Super Bowl XLVIII, which broke the record held by Super Bowl XLVII, which broke the record held by Super Bowl XLVI … should I go on?
Each year, more and more people are watching the Super Bowl. Super Bowls account for the 21 most-watched programs in American television history in terms of total audience. Millions of people who don’t even watch football on a regular basis tune in every year because that’s just how big of an event the game is.
The Super Bowl has become more than just a football game; it has become its own national holiday of sorts. It reminds me of New Year’s Eve and how everybody goes out and celebrates on that night. Many people ask their friends, “What are you doing for New Year’s?” It’s almost the exact same with the Super Bowl.
Every year on Super Bowl Sunday, millions of Super Bowl parties are held in houses around the country, not just in the cities of the two teams competing. Special foods are made, and decorations are put up. During the six-hour-long Super Bowl pregame show, a number of celebrities (who have nothing to do with football) host special events and a number of musical performances are shown.
A big part of the game is the commercials that air during it. Each year, multi-billion dollar companies like Budweiser and Doritos spend millions of dollars to make and show a 30-second commercial advertisement that airs during the game, and many of these commercials don’t even have anything to do with the product the company makes. It has become a small competition to see which company can get the most laughs (or cries, which seemed to be a trend in this year’s batch of commercials).
You don’t see this coming from any of the other professional sports leagues and their championship games, whether it be the NBA Finals, the World Series, or the Stanley Cup Finals. Part of this is because of how smart the NFL has been in regards to the Super Bowl. NBA Finals games usually start late in the night on the East Coast, and NBC keeps insisting that at least two Stanley Cup Finals games be broadcast each year on NBC Sports Network, a smaller channel with considerably less viewership than regular NBC. The Super Bowl is broadcast at 6:25 p.m. on the first Sunday of February on either CBS, FOX, or NBC. Additionally, a big advantage the Super Bowl has is that it is just one game, not a best-of-seven series.
What the Super Bowl has become is a sign of how powerful the National Football League currently is. The NFL has become more than just a professional sports league; it has almost become part of our daily lives. This past season was not a good one for the NFL’s image, filled with controversy after controversy. It seemed like there were endless national news stories about some of the league’s biggest stars committing crimes or horrible acts. It seemed to go on and on, whether it was Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee, Adrian Peterson abusing his child, former player Aaron Hernandez on trial for murder, the Patriots being accused of deflating footballs during games or even the controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins franchise.
What was even worse than all of the negative stories was the way the NFL handled some of these controversies. League commissioner Roger Goodell originally suspended Ray Rice two games for assaulting his now-wife; it was only after video surfaced of just how gruesome the attack was that the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. Goodell claimed he never saw video of the assault before it was released, and he and the league were criticized heavily for the way they handled the investigation. Many people called for a boycott of the NFL, but people still watched the NFL on a consistent basis, and the league once again made billions of dollars.
Why? Because America has become dependent on the NFL. Americans have a thirst that needs to be quenched on four of the first five and the last seventeen Sundays of every calendar year. No matter the controversies or the negative publicity surrounding the league, we watch. This just shows that the NFL and the Super Bowl are too big to fail.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.