The Super Bowl Tanked, So What?
Why the entire nation submits itself to its yearly misery
By: Sammi DiVito
Back in 1967, the NFL created what would later inadvertently become an unrecognized national holiday: Super Bowl Sunday. Now, every winter, football fans across the country collectively gather in front of their TVs, adorned in team colors and armed with bags of chips and bowls of hot cheese. A day for family, friends, and football—it’s the Fourth of July in February. Oozing with patriotism and a love for the pigskin, this big game day is one of the few yearly celebrations America can lay sole claim to. The Super Bowl isn’t just an occasion for football fans either, as even the casual observer can sit down to watch the star-studded halftime show or enjoy the multi-million dollar ads. Such a large production takes years to plan and a staff of thousands to successfully put together. Which is why, all things considered, it’s not only a surprise that the Super Bowl continues to suck, but that everyone continues to succumb themselves to watching it.
The 2019 Super Bowl was one of the lowest ratedin the last decade, with viewers having to sit and suffer through what was arguably the most painfully drawn out game ever to grace that holy football Sunday. The first half of the game limped by with the Patriots and Rams battling it out, only to end with a lackluster score of 3-0. No touchdowns. Cue the halftime show, which seemed like it would be a saving grace for the travesty that was unfolding on viewers’ flat screens.
However, the NFL executives in charge of planning the performances seemed to have everything to lose and absolutely no desire to gain. In the wake of the Colin Kaepernick dispute, celebrities were boycotting the halftime show, leaving only a smattering of performers willing to take the stage. In what must have been an absolute grasp for straws, Maroon 5 was chosen to be the nights’ entertainment alongside Travis Scott and Big Boi. The rappers (arguably the only exciting thing to take place that cursed evening besides the Spongebob cameo) were ushered onto the stage for a very brief, very bleeped out minute before Adam Levine attempted to cover all his band’s top hits in ten minutes. Middle-aged housewives went wild when he exposed his nipples to the entire stadium. The game ensued. In the final quarter, the Patriots finally got some touchdowns, and end up winning their sixth Super Bowl with an anticlimactic score of 13-3. Everybody finally got to go to bed, struggling to remember the semi-average commercials in an effort to understand what they just spent the last three plus hours watching.
There must be some reason why everybody collectively sat down and yawned their way through Super Bowl LIII—and why they will continue to do so next year. Especially considering that, besides being just a miserable viewing experience, there are plenty more things resting just below the surface: things like surges in sex traffickingthat coincide with the Super Bowl, the potential for extensive brain damageand other bodily injuries during play, and the recent accusations of the NFL being structurally racist.
Part of it can be blamed on tradition. In a world as chaotic and dangerous as the one people are living through right now, nothing quite strikes the human heart as warmly as the comfort of what it knows. The Super Bowl is a common name among households, one that stirs up memories of parties with football shaped plates and greasy nachos. It’s an event that has been dragged alongside history for over half a century, made to conform into whatever mold society had taken shape at that particular time. Without fail, no matter what tragedy ails the country in a given year, the Super Bowl still takes place on the first Sunday in February. Humans are simply creatures of habit: they like things they understand and that are familiar to them, including high production Coca Cola ads and giant foam fingers.
There is the connectedness factor to consider too: at its peak, 115 million peoplewatched the Super Bowl back in 2015. And not passively either. When people watch, they talk, yell, cry, and laugh with one another—pure, uninhibited human connection with whoever viewers choose to surround themselves with, alongside the invisible several hundred million others that are also joining in countrywide.
So, is it all justified—the boredom, the moral questions it raises, the wasting away of precious hours every year? The NFL has been beating this dead horse for a long, long time. Pull the same stunts again and again and surely anything is going to lose its wow-factor—take “American Idol,” for example. Somehow, this massive, repetitive football game has managed to stand the test of time despite all its formidable drawbacks. Whether it truly is a desire to be a part of modern culture or really just because a personlovesfootball, the Super Bowl traipses on. At the end of the day, it’s hard to ignore the allure of the hype, as well as the two tons of confetti the NFL releases over the stadium. Now, it’s only a matter of who will still tune in next year.