The Super Bowl is often used as a benchmark in the USA for talking about how big any event is that is being broadcast and live streamed. This includes a number of occassions where Americans have often responded with disbelief when they hear that the viewership that come from an India vs Pakistan match in a cricket World Cup dwarfs the numbers that come from a Super Bowl. There is good reason for that though – few live events surpass the Super Bowl in terms of viewership. The viewership figures of the last two Super Bowls was 101 million and 113 million. This year, the two teams at the centre of it all will be defending champions Kansas City Chiefs and San Fransisco 49ers. Here we give you a run down on everything you need to know about this mega event.
What is the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is the term that is used to refer to the match that decides the champion of the National Football League (NFL) i.e., it is the final of an NFL season. However, this is not the football that the rest of the world knows and is instead a sport that is called American football outside of the USA and Canada. The difference between the American version to the one that is popular around the world is significant, with the ball looking closer to a rugby ball and being largely nestled in players’ hands. The match was created in 1966 as part of a merger agreement between the NFL and the competing American Football League to have the best teams of their respective leagues to compete each other for a championship title.
Originally called the AFL–NFL World Championship Game, the term “Super Bowl” has been used since the 1969 final was called Super Bowl III. Roman numerals are used to mark each match and this year’s game is Super Bowl LVIII (Super Bowl 58). The merger of the two leagues was completed in 1970 wit the “National Football League” name and trademark being continued after which 10 AFL teams and 3 of the NFL teams formed the American Football Conference (AFC), while the remaining 13 NFL teams formed the National Football Conference (NFC). All games since 1971’s Super Bowl V have been played between the best team from each of the two conferences, with the NFC leading the AFC 27–26 in wins. The team that wins the Super Bowl is awarded the iconic Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the NFL coach of he same name who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowl games.
Who is fighting it out for the Lombardi this year?
This Super Bowl is being played to decide the champion of the 2023 season and the two teams fighting for it are defending champions Kansas City Chiefs and the San Fransisco 49ers at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Chiefs are led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. Quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive standouts like Nick Bosa are the faces of the Chiefs. The Chiefs are looking to become the first team in over two decades to have won back to back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004.
Why is the half-time show such a big deal?
Similar to how it’s done in field hockey, NFL games are divided into four quarters, with the break after the second quarter being a relatively longer one and being called a half-time break. Half-time for a regular NFL game is 13 minutes but it tends to be much longer in the Super Bowl as the biggest pop stars and musicians take the field with elaborate stage set ups and set pieces. Performing at the half-time show often tends to be a highlight in the careers of some of the most famous American pop stars over the years, including the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Beyonce and so on. This year Usher was the headline act with Alicia Keys joining him.
What has Taylor Swift got to do with all this?
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift isn’t performing in the half-time show this year – in fact, she has never taken the field in a Super Bowl. However, she has been a regular in the NFL this season to cheer for her boyfriend Kelce, the Chiefs’ tight end. She is in the stands in Vegas, living and breathing the final probably as much as Kelce is on the field. She made it despite performing in Tokyo, Japan a day before the match, with the Japanese Embassy in Washington even releasing a statement to assure her fans – popularly known as “Swifties”, that she will indeed make it to Vegas in time for the match. The relationship between the two has led to a significant influx of new fans for the league. According to American media outlets, Swift’s association with the NFL has boosted the league’s brand value by over $122 million in just a few months. Her impact on female viewership is staggering: a 53 percent increase among those aged 12-17, a 34 percent rise in those over 35 and 24 percent in the 18-24 demographic.