Super Bowl Sunday is a good time to think about the phrase, “As American as baseball and apple pie.” The phrase should actually be, “As American as football and apple pie.”
I’m not an expert on football, but there are probably a ton of reasons why it’s so appealing to Americans. One might be the combination of power and strength that is seen as representative of the ideal American male. Another, which I’ve written about, is the violence involved in the game.
The effect of that appeal is quantifiable: An estimated 100 million people will watch the Super Bowl. Yes, 100 million is the number that’s thrown around every year at this time, but think about that for a minute. That’s about one in three Americans who will share this event simultaneously. With media fragmented over different platforms, channels, stations and websites, it’s remarkable that so many Americans share this same experience at the same time.
It’s not just the Super Bowl that’s popular. Americans have been watching football throughout the season, too. This was the first year that every primetime football game won its time slot. And it’s not just men who are watching football. Women make up about a third of NFL viewers and Sunday Night Football on NBC was the third highest rated show of the season for women 18-49 years old.
There are probably more reasons. Scheduling probably helps: It’s easier to get an individual to watch the 16 regular season football games that are played on Sundays, than to get that same person to watch the dozens of basketball or baseball games that occur during the workweek. But it’s more than just scheduling that keeps Americans coming back to football.
What do you think? Why is football so popular in America? Are you going to watch the Super Bowl tonight? Why?
Most football fans are thinking about the match-up between the Saints and the Colts later today. I, not being a huge fan of the game, am thinking more about the Super Bowl commercial controversy. Don’t think that I dislike football. I enjoy a good competitive game as much as anyone, and I’ll probably watch tomorrow.
The controversy over what ads CBS has decided to show and what they rejected is important, though. Those decisions over what an expected 90 million people will see says a lot about CBS’s and the NFL’s points of view. It also says a lot about what they think the 90 million viewers want to see.
The network rejected ads from ManCrunch, a gay dating website, and the web domain and hosting firm GoDaddy, whose ads have been rejected from previous Super Bowl broadcasts. CBS has agreed, though, to air a pro-life ad from conservative group Focus on the Family featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. There have been sexy ads that have aired during previous Super Bowls, including some from GoDaddy, and there will surely be some this year. There’s very little flesh in either the ManCrunch or GoDaddy ads, though. This seems to be more about sexuality than straight-up sex.
In the ManCrunch ad, two guy’s guys are on a couch watching a football game. Their hands touch over a bowl of potato chips, they share a glance and then they start making out. It’s nothing racier than something you might see on a late night sketch comedy (and apparently it’s already been done there). Here’s the ad:
In the GoDaddy ad, you have a gruff looking footballer who retires, comes out of the closet after leaving football, is flamboyantly gay, and starts a lingerie line using GoDaddy’s services:
If there’s one thing that’s as American as baseball and apple pie, it would be, ironically, football. It could even be said that it’s more popular than baseball if you look at the spectacle and money that’s made out of the Super Bowl.
But football is a violent sport that can cause great physical injury to players. That was proven again when Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White collided with Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor on Sunday. Though he appeared motionless at first, he was finally talking and moving his arms and legs by the time he was taken off the field. (White was seen at in the Dolphins locker room on Monday and is reported to have suffered a “likely concussion.”)
The other quarterbacks in the game were having a rough time, too. White, a rookie quarterback, replaced starting quarterback Chad Henne who was out with an eye injury due to a hit in the first half of the game. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been knocked around in the last few years, too. He’s had four concussions since 2006. Pardon the pun, but it’s mind-boggling that so many injuries, particularly head injuries, are tolerated in football.