History of the Super Bowl: A Humorous Look at the Religious Holiday

super bowl lviii logoHISTORY 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.

Some will say it is the most important holiday of the year in America. While it is ostensibly a secular holiday, others argue it is truly a religious holiday. And there are several reasons why. Super Bowl has:

  • A liturgy
  • Multiple prayers
  • Special foods
  • Formal rituals that have developed throughout history
  • 100 million celebrants in front of their TV for worship

It used to be that commercials were the part of the worship service intended for taking a bio break, but not recently. The commercials are now the service’s most influential part (for at least 22% of viewers); indeed, some (like me) watch the Super Bowl specifically for the advertisements.


Taylor Swift: The Super Bowl Homecoming Queen

chayka swiftulairty

Travis Kelse and Taylor Swift: TNT

What article about the Super Bowl would be complete without mentioning that Taylor Swift, fresh off her international Eras Tour, will be at the Super Bowl this year? She will, almost single-handedly (along with the Kansas City Chiefs), face the San Francisco 49ers. For readers recently returning from another planet, Taylor Swift is the Presidential nominee for both the Democrat and Republican tickets.

Watch before and during the game for marketing opportunities to leverage our homecoming queen and other celebrities, including Steve Martin, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, and Jeremy Renner.


Super Bowl Advertisements

Ad slots have been sold out for a while now. A 30-second advertisement spot on the Super Bowl costs $7 million, or $233,333 per second. The average cost of an ad in the Super Bowl has almost doubled over the last ten years. By comparison, a 30-second ad for the 1967 game sold for $37,500, though adjusted for inflation, it would be $345,551 in today’s money. 

Google observes that those companies that post their ads on YouTube before the game receive more views than those that don’t. Over 100 million viewers will watch the program, making it the year’s most-watched television program.

Who can forget the premiere of Apple Macintosh 1, directed by Ridley Scott (who directed Blade RunnerGladiator, and Alien), during the 1984 Super Bowl, when the ad closed with:



Super Bowl: a Holiday?

In 2017, Kraft Heinz started a petition to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday called Smunday. Their employees already got that day off to recover, and they want the same holiday for the 16 million Americans who would otherwise call in sick that year.


Super Bowl Food

Super Bowl food

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

A national “cheat day,” many will suspend their New Year’s Dieting Resolution “for just this one day.” 67% more pizza is eaten on Super Bowl Sunday than on average days. 4 million pounds of pretzels, 2.5 million pounds of nuts, 8 million pounds of popcorn, 29 million pounds of chips, and 8 million pounds of guacamole are consumed on this day… some crediting the Super Bowl for popularizing the avocado; Americans eat more avocados on this day than any other day of the year. $1.3 billion is spent on beer and $517 million on soft drinks on Super Bowl Sunday.


Super Bowl Decorations

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


Super Bowl 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 LVIII, the Roman numerals for 58 to honor those Roman roots of gladiatorial contests. This contest is between the conferences of the National Football League (NFL), named for the “League,” the unit of measurement used to express the distance a Roman citizen could walk in 1 hour. However, the modern game is about four times that length of time, even though there are four 15-minute quarters. Go figure.


The NFL is divided neatly into two unequal halves: the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference). These conferences are each further subdivided into Meetups, Get-togethers, and One-on-Ones.

The Super Bowl will not involve the CIFL (Continental Indoor Football League) as it is not a TLA (Three Letter Acronym). The winner of the Super Bowl will be declared the “world champion of football.” This ignores 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 wait for the next Star Trek movie.


Where does the word “bowl” come from? Initially, it came from the Rose Bowl, a college football contest held in Pasadena, CA, and done in an elliptical stadium.

In ancient Rome, a stadium was a sporting venue where foot races were held. But spectator gladiatorial contests like this were held in amphitheatres, like the Colosseum in Rome.

To be more historically accurate, the Colosseum was called the Flavian Amphitheatre, so named from the two ancient Greek root words amphi+theatron because they were made up of two theatres joined together or literally theatres on both sides. But that is more ancient history than most people can handle.



It is nominally named for being approximately in the middle of the game, though the second half can be much longer, going into overtime. The current rules allow both teams in a playoff game to possess the ball at least once in overtime, regardless of a touchdown scored by the team that has the first possession.

Unlike many other football broadcasts, this halftime event is actually shown to the TV audience watching from home. These festivities consist of first-class and second-rate musical performers, some with questionable taste in attire, others with costuming clumsiness or so-called “wardrobe malfunctions.”


Two Minute Warning

2 o'clock

While using a clock, the Super Bowl does not intend that this is to be understood as representing actual “wall clock” time. Instead, it uses poetic license to represent an epochal period that could last 30 minutes or an hour and a half, given overtimes. Then it ends in sudden death – just like those gladiatorial games.


Super Bowl Protests and Boycotts

Just as there’s nothing more American than the Super Bowl, there’s nothing more American than dissent and counter-dissent. Considering the number of eyeballs glued to the screen for this event, it’s inevitable.

One of the protests may be from the world of Baseball, the so-called “All-American Sport”:

football continues to rank as americans favorite sport

Baseball vs. Basketball vs. Football


Football From the World of Science


Sagittarius A*

A new study using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, finds that the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, is spinning so quickly around its axis that it is warping spacetime. It is doing it in such a way that it is shaped like a football. Coincidence?


Super Bowl Fun Facts to Impress Friends and Family

  • A Super Bowl I ticket in 1967 cost $6-$12. Now, a ticket costs between $6,500 and $40,000 on Ticketmaster before fees and taxes. On location: $9,000+.

  • Super Bowl XLIX (Seahawks vs. Patriots) had a record 114.4 million viewers.

  • About 20 million will miss at least some work the day after the Super Bowl, according to a Harris Poll.


Super Bowl Celebration

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

Will you be watching this year?


1 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.


Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian


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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.


  1. Craig on February 5, 2010 at 6:12 am

    Loved the post, Bill. Good thoughts. Thanks.

  2. Michael Bierman on February 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

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

  3. Carol on February 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

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

  4. U2Joshua on February 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm

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

  5. Ricki Pezoldt on February 3, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Very fun post ! Thanks

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