Sunday, February 3, 2013

Superbowl Sunday

The Superbowl, an unsanctioned holiday for every American.  Lovers and haters of football tune in for either the game, the commercials, or for the halftime show each year.  This four hour time frame is the most watched of any television event in the world.  We call baseball America's favorite pastime, a saying that has slowly faded away with every passing year as football grows more popular.  Where did this event come from?  Who came up with the name?  Why do we have a Superbowl?

In 1960 the AFL (American Football League) was formed; creating the possibility of a merger with the NFL, a merger that didn't happen until the 1970 season.  As agreed with the merger, a championship would be held with the two league champions facing off in a game to see who has the better team.  Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, used the phrase 'Superbowl' during the merger meetings.  Hunt blames the name on his children.  During these meetings, his children were infatuated with a toy called the 'Super ball,' so Hunt would playfully refer to the championship game as the Superbowl.  Eventually the league went with AFL-NFL Championship, but the press caught wind of Hunts playful phrase, making it popular among the general public.  During the third season, the league made it official to call the championship game the Superbowl.

The most coveted trophy in sports, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, was actually designed on a cocktail napkin by the vice president of Tiffany and Co, Oscar Riedner, while having lunch with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1967.  Since its design, its been hand crafted exclusively by Tiffany and Co.  Inscribed on the bottom of the trophy read "World Professional Football Championship," this being the name of the trophy in the first four championship games.  The name of the trophy was later renamed after the sudden death of the Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi of cancer in 1970, and was first presented as the Vince Lombardi trophy in Superbowl V to the Baltimore Colts in 1971.  Unlike the Stanley Cup and Grey Cup, the Lombardi Trophy is made every year while the winning team maintains permanent possession of it.

Last year broke the record for the most watched program ever at an estimated 167 million viewers during the Patriots vs. Giants game.  The high amount of viewers creates prime real estate for commercial slots during breaks from the game.  These time slots for thirty seconds of air time go for 3.8 million dollars.  Most popular companies like Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and dot com business's use these time slots to get the word out about new products.  The Superbowl is the only program where everyone actually looks forward to the commercials.

During the first few Superbowl's, the University of Michigan and Arizona were the big ticket players who entertained during the halftime show.  Later on, Up with People, a young group of performers performed the first over the top performance during the halftime show.  They performed four times between 1976 and 1986, the same show about hope and peace for people around the world.  Eventually the halftime show became a platform for megastars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and this years performer Beyonce.  None of the performers have ever been paid for their performances, and none have ever complained for the lack of compensation.  The halftime show is the one and only time where their audience will reach its peak at over 100 million people, the most of any other performance they'll ever perform.

My choice for this year's winner, and who I'll be rooting for is the 49ers, the underdog of this years big game.  We'll see what happens.

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