February 2, 2021
Melinda Head

The Big Game

Ever since the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers met in Super Bowl I in 1967, America has been celebrating this spectacle on the scale almost of a national holiday. Let's take a deeper look into the sights, sounds, and culture that make up the biggest sports day of the year in the United States.

The anticipation, the preparations, the athletes, the entertainment, the commercial launches, the food, the camaraderie, the ecstasy, and the agony. That’s a lot for one event, but the Super Bowl is the biggest February sports event in America and America is all about BIG.

BIG anticipation.

As Tom Brady makes his way to his 10th Super Bowl we can’t help but wonder when this 43-year-old will be too old to play, and play well. Can he win a 7th Super Bowl, this time with a new team? Or will Patrick Mahomes II, the highest-paid NFL player, become the first black quarterback to win two Super Bowls?

Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady
Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady

BIG disappointments.

The Buffalo Bills came so close to making it to the Super Bowl…who would have thought they would get the first 9 points and the last 9 points of the game…and still lose…What a heart breaker.

BIG preparations.

Even bigger this year with COVID circling around all of us and new precautions necessary. Members of the Never Miss A Super Bowl Club and the Super Bowl Five will be allowed to buy tickets, with proof of vaccination in hand when they arrive at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The League is also giving away 7,500 tickets to vaccinated Health Care Workers. So great to see the thank you being extended by the League. Oh, and did you hear – the air force will be there too!!

B-52 Stratofortress
B-52 Stratofortress

BIG athletes.

Who will they be? Will the focus be on Mahomes and Brady, or will players like Tyreek Hill and Ronald Jones II shine brighter? Sounds like Tampa Bay will have Antoine Winfield Jr back, but will Kansas City’s Mitchell Schwartz make it back from his back injury in time for Super Bowl LV? Mahomes has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol, with concern being deflected on a recent turf toe injury on his left foot. What the heck is “turf toe”? Basically, it is a sprain of the main joint of the big toe.

BIG commercial launches.

In a world with live streaming, DVRs with skip commercial buttons, and people refusing to watch commercials anymore, it’s amazing that the Super Bowl has created such a lust for commercials. In 2020, 30 seconds cost advertisers $5.6 million. What will the League fetch in 2021 with a fraction of the in-person, live audience? But there’s one thing I don’t understand: if it’s all about The Big Reveal at Super Bowl, why are some advertisers releasing their commercials in advance? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose, or is the new generation unable to wait for anything? In 2020, according to the Kellogg Bowl, 2020 Super Bowl Ad Review, ”A List” winners included: Amazon, Google, T-Mobile, Hyundai, Cheetos, Facebook, Bud Light, Budweiser, Jeep, and SodaStream. What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial in 2020?

I still remember Xbox’s Adaptive Controller Ad from back in 2019. To be honest, I remember that commercial more clearly than I remember who won the Super Bowl. Of course, it was a really, really boring 13-3 Patriots over Rams win, so maybe that’s why.

BIG entertainment

Lady Gaga and J. Lo performed at Joe Biden’s Inauguration on January 20, 2021. Canada’s “The Weeknd” (his real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) will headline the Halftime Show and undoubtedly play “Blinding Lights” to eyeballs on screens instead of full stands. Will other surprise guests also make an appearance? Will we love Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan’s rendition of the national anthem? Will a country artist and an R&B artist mesh well? Will H.E.R steal the show with her pre-game rendition of America the Beautiful?

Super Bowl Performer - The Weekend
Super Bowl Performer - The Weeknd

BIG food.

The staples will always be there: chili, chicken wings, guacamole, pigs in blankets, spinach-artichoke dip, potato skins, burgers/sliders, nachos, pizza, tacos … you name it. What’s a game without good old comfort food and beer? And, let’s face it, food is one of the only things we’ve been able to look forward to during COVID. I am truly amazed at some of the incredible food that comes out of the back of a tailgating truck. There are some incredibly innovative tailgaters out there.

Super Bowl Feast
Super Bowl Feast

BIG camaraderie.

Getting together without passing on COVID remains a challenge. Can a Super Bowl be held with dummies in the stands, or 80% fewer than usual, socially distanced, well-behaved fans? It can and it will, only because we know that 2022 will be different. Kudos to the League for ensuring that its most loyal fans can attend the event.

BIG ecstasy.

How could we forget Super Bowl 51 - New England V. Atlanta, the biggest Super Bowl comeback of all time. The New England Patriots, lead by Tom Brady, overcame a 25-point deficit to ultimately beat Atlanta in overtime.

Or what about Super Bowl 42 when the underdog New York Giants beat the New England Patriots putting an end to what was, to that point, a perfect season.

When I think about these two big upsets, I can’t help but wonder what Tom Brady will bring to this year’s game. The Chiefs are favored to win, but if there is one thing we have learned over Brady’s 20+ year career – you can never count him out.

BIG agony.

Although both losing teams mentioned above, and their fans probably belong on this list, we can’t forget about 2000 when the Tennessee Titans were just 1 yard short of scoring a touchdown in the final seconds of the game making the L.A. Rams Super Bowl 34 Champions

Or that fateful Super Bowl 25 when Scott Norwood attempts a 47-yard field goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock. The kick is Wide Right, and the clock runs out, the Giants win 20-19. That would have been the kick of his career.

The other aspects of the Super Bowl that excite me are:

The spandex. Gotta love the muscles, the beautiful specimens of sinuous manhood on display. Did you know that Spandex (also known as Lycra) is a synthetic fiber (polyether-polyurea copolymer) that was invented in 1958 by Joseph Shivers at DuPont’s Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia?

The cheerleaders. These gals and guys are Cirque du Soleil material. Did you know that after a long period of barely earning minimum wage, professional NFL cheerleaders now can earn about $75,000 a year? The first male cheerleaders in the NFL Super Bowl were Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron (2019).

The brotherhood. Men of all races and identities play together and play hard. Did you know that Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins was the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl back in 1988? Williams was definitely not the last, Mahomes is the latest, waiting to see if that holds true again on February 7th.

The sisterhood. We now have our first female NFL coach (offensive assistant coach). OMG!!! Katie Sowers is also the first openly LGBTQ person to coach at a Super Bowl. She also happens to have a master’s degree in kinesiology, and a twin sister who plays football as a wide receiver.

Katie Sowers - 1st Female Super Bowl Asst. Coach
Katie Sowers - 1st Female Super Bowl Asst. Coach

The bragging rights. Just attending a sporting event gets you off the couch, burning calories, reducing stress, and improving well-being due to the release of feel-good endorphins -- even more if your team wins and you brag about it relentlessly!

The memories. We’ll remember 2021 because of COVID, but there will always be nail-biting moments that will be anchored in our memories forever. Be it just 1 yard short, the end of the perfect season, or the first Super Bowl winning kick in 31 years in 2002 (Patriots 20, Rams 17). Will there be another such moment in 2021?

The creation of a convenient excuse to get a new TV screen: The bigger the better. Did you know that almost ¼ of all TV sales are specifically for the Super Bowl? Are you the type who’s specifically looking for a deal, or the other type who is looking for the best set for the next 5 years?

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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