The commercials, the half-time show, the spicy buffalo wings, the barbecues, the hundreds of bowls of chips and dip, the ‘tailgate’ parties and the Bud Light beer. The Super Bowl is basically a national holiday. There is no bigger sporting event in all the country – in all my country – The United States of America.
It starts with a long season of Monday and Sunday night football; men and women anxiously stacking their Fantasy drafts with an unyielding patriotic loyalty to their favorite players and home teams. The hype starts to escalate as teams make it to the playoffs where the champions slowly make themselves known. An entire season’s worth of great records and dreams of making it to the big game can be upset in an instant by incredible passes or new touchdown records. Legacies set in the regular season either preform or forever taint their namesakes. It is here the underdogs prove their true might and will to rise to the top. There is no way to describe the pain and frustration or the pure, orgasmic, elation the die hard fan feels as their teams win or lose during the playoff season. It’s like nothing else; many a friendship broken, many a thing smashed in fury, many a head shaken in utter disappointment, and many a passionate brawl amongst rivals over the wins and losses of the teams you’ve supported all year.
It’s not just the fans that get caught up in the glory and hype of the big game. Making it to the Super Bowl is what every NFL athlete has been dreaming of since they were playing touch football at recess (or ‘playtime’ as you might call it). In an online journal, the Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin describes the feeling that game day brings as “the fire that was already intensely burning inside is now being stoked.” So much goes on behind the scenes: reviewing the games of other teams 20 times, meetings to coordinate offense and defense, rundowns of all the plays. Every day that it gets closer feeds a little more fuel to the fire. The motivation to always play to their best ability never stops, they do it for themselves as well as for their fans. The intensity shows in all the end zone dances, all the chest bumping and helmet slapping, and every little, superstitious ritual from which fans and athletes alike never stray. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?
So, America arrives at Superbowl XVLIII and everyone across the country is ready for one of the biggest events of the year. Most of the excitement isn’t even about the actual game. All anyone can talk about is how this year’s half-time show can top the last, what’s going to be the special element that no performer has had before? How are they going to incorporate American pride and adorable singing children into the act? From Madonna to Beyoncé, U2 to Paul McCartney, you can understand why expectations are so high and every year something incredible must happen. The other half of the hype lies in the commercials. At what the New York Times calls an average of $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime, these had better be the best ads America has seen. The biggest names in advertising work all year to make the funniest or most memorable ad campaigns. Car ads go over the top; celebrating how everything from the engineers to the raw materials of the machine are “Made in America.” Coca Cola brings us all back to the glory days when America used to buy burgers and sodas at the local joints. Most recently famous are the Doritos ads that are ingenuously comical, because you would do anything for a bag (like enter a time machine or make your dad dress up in a princess dress).
Despite America’s incessant need to capitalize on everything it seemingly can, the Superbowl is ultimately a celebration that’s shared with close friends and family. Even if you haven’t watched the teams during the regular season or at all, even if your “bae” roots for the blue team because the bird looks cooler than the horse, everyone has a great time upholding their traditions. When your team makes it to the Super Bowl, such an emotion of pride, joy and excitement cannot be described in words. So we simply celebrate by piling our plates with hot wings, BBQ, and Lays (or Ruffles if they take your fancy) and fill our red solo cups with Bud and Coors, everything that personifies the NFL Super Bowl.