Super Bowl Sunday
Christmas and New Year’s are over. But now there’s another date many of us who are sports fans (or fans of commercials) look forward to this year: February 11, 2024. This is the date that the two best teams of the National Football League (American football, not soccer like the rest of the world celebrates) go head-to-head in an epic matchup known as the Super Bowl. I’m highlighting the game because our local team, the San Francisco 49ers, are in the playoffs, clinching the #1 seed in their division (see Ila’s blog posts, Yes, the 49ers Are that Talented!, 2022’s Unlikely Underdog Leaders and Meeting a San Francisco 49er!) with a chance to capture the Lombardi trophy this year for the sixth time in franchise history. Given the team’s success, perhaps a background on the history of the Big Game (the “Super Bowl”) might be in order.
The game was originally called the “AFL-NFL National Championship” and started in 1966. It wasn’t referred to as the “Super Bowl” until 1969 for “Super Bowl III”. The American Football League and National Football League merged in 1970 and the contest between the two leagues has been referred to as the Super Bowl ever since. After several disastrous years in which inclement weather marred the game, the venue is now reserved only for domed stadiums or parts of the country that are unlikely to have heavy snow or other severe weather problems. This year it will be held in Nevada, and in two more years, in 2026, the Big Game will return once again to Santa Clara. The stadium is usually chosen 3-4 years in advance.
There are 32 teams in the National Football League, and only 20 teams have actually won the Super Bowl. Our own 49ers have won five times and lost twice, most recently in 2020. Through a series of three weeks of playoffs, the winner of each league goes for one final game to determine which is the best team in football.
Football is a game that brings people together, whether having a football party in front of the television or a tailgate party in the parking lot of the stadium, it’s a game to share with friends and family. For me, football reminds me of my father. When I was young, he and I would watch football together on Sundays (I grew up in Santa Barbara, so our team at that time in the 1970’s was the Rams) and he would answer my endless questions about the game. He hated the commercials and whenever one came on that he didn’t like, he would frown and say, “Dumb”. Although my father is no longer alive, I can attest that things haven’t improved much since then. I loved those moments with him.
More Than Just a Game
Because of the large audience, some of the most creative, funny. or outrageous commercials usually air during the Super Bowl. This is a major advertising event which some companies pay millions of dollars for a simple one-minute or thirty-second commercial. Many of the commercials are talked about for years afterwards, after the game itself has been long forgotten. Some people just watch the game for the commercials alone. Some tune in for the halftime show, which is one of the biggest 15-minute productions of the year. Others, who are passionate about the game, will tune in for the sport itself, following their team to the sometimes bitter end, and rooting for one final score before they have to wait for the season to start all over again in August. Regardless of which extreme you are on, it is a day for celebration, for cheering on your team and to say “until next year”. Win or lose, it is a day for celebration and to adjust for a life without the game of football—for a while.
There's Always Next Year
Although the Super Bowl is a great celebration to be shared with friends and fellow sports fans, it is important to remember that this is just a football game like any other. It is a day to celebrate, but not overdo. It is easy to get carried away. One team wins, another loses, and then the season ends until a new season begins later in the year. I find it exciting that the team I follow may finally return to the Big Game. And yes, I really hope that they do win. I will be disappointed if they don’t. But there is always another year ahead and I will pick myself up and whether they win or whether they lose, I will root for them again next fall.
I hope you enjoy the game!
Need to catch up on the latest about the 49ers or the Big Game? For local news on the 49ers, you can access the San Jose Mercury News online! For general sports, we offer Sports Illustrated, or you can use Pressreader to access a wide variety of sports magazines. Whatever your interest, San Jose Library has you covered!