MatchPint's resident Yank, Pete Dombrosky, has kindly written this guide to the USA's biggest event explaining it for us limey Brits.
Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched single-day television event in American history, with 111.3 million people tuning in. That’s right, more Americans watched a football game than the moon landing, any presidential inauguration, World Cup Final, or Olympic opening ceremony in history.
I believe we have our priorities sorted.
Watching the big game is a rewarding experience. “But Pete,” you ask, “what can we do here in the U.K. to emulate a truly American Super Bowl experience?” I’m glad you asked; we Americans love nothing more than sharing our ideals of freedom, gluttony and sports-related partying, just like our forefathers envisioned.
Disclaimer: Prepare to have an unproductive day at work on Monday. If you do the Super Bowl correctly, you’ll end up inebriated, full of carbohydrates, sweating cheese and tired as all hell. That’s why we’re petitioning the U.S. government to make the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday.
You’ll need to contact your mates and figure out where you’ll watch the game (What’s that? You can do all that through MatchPint?) Watching at home is a no-no, there’s nothing better than the pub for this one. Pubs never run out of beer, there are people being paid minimum wage to cook you greasy food and they have dozens of screens.
If you’re going for a truly authentic experience you’ll need to find a boozer that’ll be serving ALL of the following ‘snacks’: hotdogs, hamburgers, beer, cheeseburgers, corndogs, brats, brats stuffed with cheese wrapped in bacon, beer, chips and dip, guacamole, nachos and salsa, potato skins, beer, chicken wings and anything else that will induce cardiac arrest. Oh, and beer. Plenty o’beer is key.
Once you have your comrades, food and drink gathered at the party, prepare yourself for the most exciting 11 minutes (spread over 4 hours) of the year.
Now, I understand you may find some facets of American football and the Super Bowl vexing, so I’ll open up the floor for some questions from a British perspective…
Q. What’s with all the advert hype? Are they any good? And crucially are they better than this?
A. Being the ignorant American I am, I never realized you don’t have commercials during all sporting events. I’m stunned, as I can’t imagine a Super Bowl, baseball game or pro bull riding event without ads selling you beer, monster trucks, penis pills and Pepsi. This year, each second of advertising will cost more than $125,000. Companies go big to develop the most memorable adds. Some are huge hits; others fall flat spectacularly. Because of that hype, there’s a large percentage of Americans who tune in just for the commercials – they’re called women.
Q. Why does everyone get so worked up about the half time show? Also what’s with all the crybaby stuff about boobs, nipples and middle fingers every now and then? You guys would HATE Glastonbury. 5 days of drugs, sex, swearing and terrible fashion beamed live into your family’s living room by the nation's public service broadcaster.
A. Why do we get worked up over halftime? Because we have zero patience. How dare the teams stop playing for 15 minutes! We’re paying good money for our cable service - we DESERVE to be entertained for the entirety of the programming! And we’ll be damned if the network fat cats don’t bring in the most unreasonably hyped flavor of the month artists or washed up stars to regale us with a confusing combination of grandeur and pop culture that we’re all going to miss anyway while we use the bathroom.
As far as the crybaby stuff about boobs and middle fingers, you have to realize the contradictory nature of Americans. We’ll say that we’re offended by nudity or brash rudeness when in reality, those are at the core of every American, whether they’ll admit it or not. We’ll praise our liberty and freedom, and then condemn those who exercise it to the fullest. We’re completely tolerant and accepting of gratuitous violence for our entertainment when it comes to television shows or hell, even the Super Bowl, for which millions of bloodthirsty Americans tune in on Sunday to watch grown men destroy each other (it’s a modern day gladiator battle). But when there’s a nip slip, we cover our children’s eyes and phone the FCC screaming bloody murder.
It’s a confusing place to live sometimes.
Q. Do all cheerleaders end up as strippers or worse? If not what is their projected career path?
A. Based on zero evidence and the fact that I’ve never once met a professional NFL cheerleader, I have to assume that yes; they all definitely end up as strippers. But I did find one case of an NFL cheerleader who found the courage to take a different route.
Q. Why are there so many players on each side? Does that mean about 80 of them are subs? What do they do when they’re not playing? Ah! So is that why there are so many cheerleaders?
A. Per game, a team is allowed to have 46 players in uniform. It seems like that’s a lot of guys considering there’s only 11 on the field at any given time. But think of it this way, rarely do players participate on both defense and offense. So that’s 22 right there. And you won’t find too many offensive or defensive starters in the kickoff teams, as you don’t want your best players flying down the field at 100 mph and slamming recklessly into the oncoming mass of humanity. So you need a group of players who only act as human projectiles during kicks.
Football is inherently dangerous, so you need backups to step in at a moment’s notice. You’ll typically notice most of the subs during the game mincing around chatting, drinking the starters’ water and sitting next to industrial-strength fans/heaters, wishing they were good enough to play full time.
Q. Heard quite a lot of quarterbacks get sacked all the time, often during the game. Is such a high employment turn over really productive to team efficiency in the long run?
A. Ha, I’ve heard about that legendary British wit. Yes, during a game you’ll hear commentators say that the quarterback has been sacked. It simply means that he’s been tackled behind the line of scrimmage. The term “sack” was coined by legendary defensive end Deacon Jones sometime in the ‘60s. He said that a sack devastated the offense the same way that a city was devastated when it was sacked, i.e. plundered and destroyed.
But there are a handful of NFL quarterbacks who do lose their jobs every season. Sometimes they are sacked due to too many sacks. Try to wrap your bonce around that one.
Q. Why are there so many referees and why are they dressed like jockeys? What’s wrong with the overgrown camp schoolboy look we go in the Premier League?
A. If you want to get technical, there’s only one “referee” in each game. They’re generally known as officials and there are seven of them. Each official watches somewhere different but there are penalties on pretty much every single play of a football game with most of them never getting clocked.
They dress like zebras/jockeys to differentiate themselves from the rest of the players on the field. No team in their right mind would outfit their players in such a way so the distinction will remain clear.
Q. So touchdowns are the aim eh? People never seem to touch it down in end zone though? They always seem far more concerned with silly dances, alpha male showboating and high energy whooping. They still get points though, right?
A. Yes, points are rewarded regardless of what the player does once he crosses the goal line. There are many players who do “touch it down” in the form of a spike.
It can be dangerous stuff though.
The most prevalent one right now is New England Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski. He even added a British twist to his celebration when he played at Wembley Stadium this year.
And yes, NFL players are certainly concerned with alpha male showboating and celebrations. What’s the point of succeeding in something if you can’t rub it in someone else’s face? That, my friends, exemplifies the true American spirit.
If you have any more questions regarding ‘the greatest show on earth’ feel free to direct them at Pete on Twitter. He’ll answer ‘em real good.
Do you know where your nearest Super Bowl pub is? Please, allow us.