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The Super Bowl: A History and Analysis Essay

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A1 The Super Bowl: A History and Analysis

 

10 February 2014

The Super Bowl: A History and Analysis

Introduction

            The Super Bowl is the biggest event in football, and brings numerous fans to whichever city and state is hosting the game that year. No matter where it is held and who is participating, there are generally some very serious fans who will do all it takes to get to the game. They pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for tickets, and they travel across the state or across the country so they can see their teams play. No matter what the weather or other issues, nothing is insurmountable for fans who want to be a part of history. Some years the Super Bowl is a bigger focus than others, and that largely depends on the fan base for the teams that are playing. While all teams have large numbers of fans, some groups are larger than others, some make more noise, and some just make more of an effort. Much of that depends on how well a team is doing and how the team has performed in the past. Some fans are "fair weather fans," and will lose interest in a non-winning team.

            Teams that win consistently can end up at the Super Bowl, where the leading AFC and the leading NFC team go up against one another in a head-to-head contest to determine who will take home the Lombardi trophy. For the winner, there are parades, endorsement deals, commercials, and a number of various perks. For the losing team, there is generally only disappointment for the team, the coaches, and the fans. Some of the players on the losing team may also be let go or their contracts not renewed for another season. This can also happen to the coach, although what happens at the Super Bowl is not the only measure of the quality of a team. That was clearly driven home in the most recent Super Bowl, as both teams had to be very good to get there but yet there did not appear to be much of an actual contest between the teams on game day.

A2 History

            The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 (A3 MacCambridge, 3). Each Super Bowl follows the end of the regular season. Instead of being identified by the season or year they follow, they are identified by Roman Numerals and counted consecutively starting with Super Bowl I in 1967 and reaching Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014. The Super Bowl is the championship game for the NFL (National Football League) and was originally created as a merger between the NFL and its then-rival the AFL (American Football League) (MacCambridge, 8). The game was played as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game until the merger was completed. This did not take place until 1970 (MacCambridge, 12). At the time of the completed merger, the name NFL was retained for all of professional football, and there was a division created between "conferences." This is where the NFC and AFC designations came from. Since that time, the best AFC and best NFC team have come together each year to play in the Super Bowl. A4 The winner of the game takes home the Lombardi trophy, named after Vince Lombardi.

            The day on which the game is played, designated "Super Bowl Sunday," has become somewhat of an American holiday, with millions of fans gathering in homes, restaurants, stadiums, and other places to watch the game. Frequently, the Super Bowl is the most watched television event in any given year. Those who want to run commercials for their products during the Super Bowl can expect to pay millions of dollars for just 30 seconds of air time, but the vast number of people who watch the game can make that cost a good advertising strategy. The "Super Bowl" trademark is part of the NFL's branding of the game, and cannot be used by other corporations that do not sponsor it (The Super Bowl, 27). Most of them call it "the big game" or something similar, in order to avoid legal trouble. Over the history of the Super Bowl, both the AFC and the NFC have had dominant periods.

A5 Location & Teams

A6 In 2014, Super Bowl XLVIII (48) was held between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Broncos had been dominant in the AFC, with a 15-3 record. The Seahawks had a 15-3 record in the NFC. Both teams were considered to be excellent at playing the sport, but both had their strengths and weaknesses. The Denver team was known for an excellent offensive line, but their defense was not as strong. Seattle was essentially the opposite, with an amazing defense but weaknesses in its offense. Issues with passing were also important, and would play a role in the game overall. There was originally a big concern about the venue for the game, because an open stadium in New Jersey in February is very risky. A week before the game, many forecasters were saying that there could be significant snow and ice. There was talk of moving the game up to Saturday or even to Monday, which would have caused a lot of problems for people who had tickets to return home on Monday.

Fortunately, the weather held out and the temperature at the time the game started was in the low 50s (Gorman). That was warmer than either Denver or Seattle at the time, so there was no risk of weather that the teams were not used to or that they would not have been able to play in. There was also no need to move the game to a different day, which was good news for all the people who had planned their weekend – and often their work schedule – around the game being on Sunday. As it was, some of the flights out of the airports in New York the day after the game were cancelled because of snowfall that moved in overnight on Sunday (A7 Gorman). While the bad weather did not affect the game, it did affect people trying to get home the next day, and made for some difficult travel for those who had driven to the game from nearby states as well as those trying to fly longer distances.    

A8 Final Outcome and Analysis

            Most sportscasters and others who speculate on games thought the Broncos and Seahawks matchup would be a close game that might come right down to the wire. The Seahawks were favored to win in many different camps, mostly because statistics have shown that past Super Bowls have more often been won by teams with a good defense as opposed to teams with a good offense (National). Still, most people were not expecting the domination the Seahawks provided over the Broncos. Scoring early and often, the Seahawks were leading 22-0 at the half and ended the game with a final score of 43-8 (National). It was a surprise for most sportscasters, and a real shock to the Broncos and their fans. In order to really understand how the score ended up that way, it is important to analyze the game. Those who watched it can provide a lot of insight about what they believed happened during the game and what particular plays and players had the most affect on everything.

While a fan analysis and a formal analysis from a trained sportscaster are not the same thing, both can be valuable and informative. They simply provide different takes on the same situation. The problems for the Broncos started early on. At 12 seconds into the first quarter, Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning missed the snap on the ball, and it popped right past him onto the field. The Seahawks were awarded 2 points for a safety, so they took the early lead (National). That seemed to set the tone for the entire game, as the Broncos never really recovered from that initial problem. It was expected that such a good team would not let that cause them a problem, but things went downhill quickly. By halftime, the Seahawks had a 22 point lead, which was the largest halftime deficit ever seen for a Super Bowl (National). It seemed at that point that the lead was becoming insurmountable, but the Broncos' fans were not ready to give up on their team until it was all over.

The second half brought an odd anomaly – another Seahawks score at 12 seconds in. It was not from a repeat of the first half safety, though, but because of an 87 yard touchdown ran in by Percy Harvin (National). There was some concern that Harvin would not be able to play because of an earlier injury, but he was ready and clearly in good form. Once he got the ball, there was no one in his way and no one who could catch him. Some of the Broncos fans left early, and a few viewers changed the channel at that point, because it was becoming clear that the Seahawks were going to be completely dominant and there was not going to be any way for the Broncos to catch up. There was even speculation that the Broncos would not be able to score against the Seahawks at all, and that it would be a complete shutout (Gorman). Thankfully for Broncos' fans who really needed something to make them feel better by that point in the game, the Broncos were able to score a touchdown and a 2-point conversion, giving them 8 points (National). Unfortunately, that was all they would score throughout the rest of the game, as they were unable to get past the Seahawks' defense.

One of the biggest problems for the Broncos was turnover. There were several times throughout the game where the Broncos had the ball but fumbled it or it was intercepted by the Seahawks. When that was coupled with the defense of the Seahawks – considered to be among the best defensive lines in the NFL – there was nothing the Broncos could really do to save the game. By the time it was all over, the final score was 43-8, which many fans found completely shocking. Broncos fans were photographed crying and miserable in the stands, and those photos quickly made the rounds of social media. For Seahawks fans, there were huge celebrations. The victory parade that took place in Seattle the Wednesday after the Super Bowl was attended by an estimated 700,000 people, which is more than the population of Seattle. Businesses closed, and many students and teachers were absent from school so they could celebrate the first ever Super Bowl win for their team.   

Conclusion

            The Super Bowl has a strong legacy with the American people, and now the Seahawks-Broncos game will be a part of that. For 48 years, football fans have gathered together on a Sunday that has become like a national holiday. They have watched their teams dominate, and they have watched their teams struggle. True fans, though, will stay fans no matter how poorly their teams perform during the Super Bowl or during the regular season. That is an important part of being a fan, and it is something people who are not interested in sports do not completely understand. For people who love watching football and who look forward to the Super Bowl, the tradition of watching the game in person or at home with friends and family is a strong one. It is someone people save up for all year, so they can go and see the game. People buy new big screen TVs, and they spend a lot of money on food and drinks so they can entertain everyone who watches the game with them.

            Super Bowl parties and victory parades are a very important part of the entire experience. When the first Super Bowl was held, it may not have been thought that it would become such an important part of American culture. What the Seahawks did in Super Bowl 48, though, helped to solidify the significance of the game and the rivalry that often surrounds it, along with the way people relate to all the Super Bowl has to offer. It has become such a big part of the lives of so many people that it looks as though it will continue indefinitely. More people watched Super Bowl 48 than have ever watched anything on TV at one time before, which indicates the continued interest in the big game and everything that surrounds it. Even the halftime show, which was considered risky, was a hit with the majority of viewers.

A9 Works Cited

Gorman, Ryan. "Seahawks 'legion of boom' defense leads team to 43-8 victory over Denver Broncos to win first-ever Super Bowl title." Daily Mail. 2014. Web. B1

MacCambridge, Michael . America's Game. NY: Random House. 2004. Print.

National Football League. "Super Bowl XLVIII most-watched TV program in U.S. history." NFL.com. 2014. Web.

The Super Bowl: An Official Retrospective with DVD. NY: Ballantine Books. 2005. Print.


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