History of the Super Bowl: Just another Religious Holiday?

Super BOwlHISTORY OF THE SUPER BOWL

The Super Bowl™ is a territory acquisition athletic contest played on a fixed agrarian grid using as a token an inflated porcine prolate spheroid. It is the most important holiday of the year in America some will say. While it is a secular holiday, others argue that it is truly a religious holiday. And there are many reasons why: it has a liturgy, lots of prayers, rituals, and indeed these rituals have developed throughout history. For example, it used to be that commercials were the part of the service that was intended for taking a bio break, but not in recent years. The commercials are now the most important part (for some) of the service, and indeed some (like me) watch Super Bowl specifically for the advertisements.

Advertisements

This year a 30-second advertisement spot on the Super Bowl runs an average of $5 million. Variety pointed out that the average cost of an ad in the Super Bowl has risen 76 percent over the last ten years, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. Google observes that those companies that post their ads on YouTube before the game received 3.4 times more views last year than those who didn’t.

Most ad slots have been sold out since the beginning of last summer. Who can forget the premier of Apple Macintosh*, directed by Ridley Scott (who directed Blade RunnerGladiator, and Prometheus), during the 1984 Super Bowl, when the ad closed with:

On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.

And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

Holiday?

Heinz, the owners of the Patriots football team, has started a petition to make the Monday after Super Bowl a national holiday called Smunday. Their employees already get that day off to recover, and they want the same holiday for the 16 million Americans who would otherwise call in sick.

Food

After Thanksgiving Day, more food is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year. These are usually selected for their high caloric index, sodium content, and crunch factor — along with carbonated inebriating fluids.

Decorations

Not only is food a major part of this holiday, so too are decorations. Consider Supermarkets (named after Superbowl) which decorate the chips aisle as if it is Christmas. If you work for Frito-Lay, it is Christmas.

History

Super Bowl is the modern name, since 1967, for the professional football championship contests, which extend back into antiquity, Roman antiquity to be precise. This will be Super Bowl LI, the Roman numerals for 51 to honor those Roman roots of gladiatorial contests. This contest is between the conferences of the National Football League (NFL), so named for the “League” the unit of measurement used to express the distance a Roman citizen could walk in 1 hour. The modern game, however, is about four times that length of time. The NFL is divided neatly into two unequal halves, the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference), these are each further subdivided into Meetings, Get-Togethers, and One-On-Ones. The Super Bowl will not involve the ICFL (Continental Indoor Footfall League) as it is not a TLA (Three Letter Acronym). The winner of the Super Bowl will be declared the “world champions of football,” of course ignoring other inhabited countries who may point out that they call soccer “football,” and they have a championship involving not a bowl, but a cup. And involvement from teams from outer space is out of the question. For space action, we’ll have to just wait for the next

For space action, we’ll have to just wait for the next Star Trek TV series. Where does the word “bowl” come from? Originally, it comes from the Rose Bowl, a college football contest, played in Pasadena, CA which is done in an elliptical stadium. Now a stadium is where foot races were held in ancient Rome. But spectator gladiatorial contests like this were held in amphitheaters, like the Colosseum in Rome, or Flavian Amphitheater, so named from the ancient Greek word because they were made up of two theaters joined together or theaters on both sides, but that is more ancient history than most people can handle.

This Year

teamsAs we hearken back this year to the original American Revolution, for the Big Game we’ll see a battle between two great forces, the blue garbed Patriots and the red coat British Falcons. The Patriots are vying for their 5th championship, the Falcons for their first.

Half Time

Nominally named for being approximately in the middle of the game, or 2 quarters in, or 4 bits worth, or 50 cent, but not the singer. Unlike many other football broadcasts, this part is actually shown to the audience watching from home. These festivities consist of first-class and second-rate musical performers, some who have questionable taste in attire, others who have costuming clumsiness or so-called “wardrobe malfunctions.”

Two Minute Warning

Super Bowl, while using a clock, does not intend that this is to be understood as representing actual “wall clock” time, rather, it uses poetic license to represent an epochal period that could last 30 minutes or an hour and a half, given overtimes.

Celebration

There is one reason for celebrating at the end of Super Bowl, especially for “football widows” or “football widowers” like me. It means the end of the professional football season for the year!

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
www.billpetro.com

* This was not the very first airing of that famous commercial. It had been shown just before midnight on December 31, 1983, on KMVT-TV in Twin Falls, Idaho to be eligible for that year’s advertising awards.

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4 comments… add one
  • Loved the post, Bill. Good thoughts. Thanks.

    Reply
  • As usual, a great post. The first superbowl was in 1967. The first supermarket was in Queens in 1930 according to wikipedia.

    Reply
  • posted this at the blog and also on my FB page. good sense of humor! :)+

    Reply
  • I am a better man for having exposure to the incorporated prototypical terminologies employed, i.e. CIFs, or Carbonated Inebreating Fluids.

    Reply

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