Super Bowl

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The winning Super Bowl team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The winning Super Bowl team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

In professional American football, the Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. The game and its ancillary festivities constitute Super Bowl Sunday, which over the years has become likened to an unofficial U.S. national holiday.

The Super Bowl was first played on January 15, 1967 as part of an agreement between the NFL and its younger rival, the American Football League (AFL) in which each league's championship team would play each other in an "AFL-NFL World Championship Game". After the leagues merged in 1970, the Super Bowl became the NFL's championship game. Since then, the game has been played annually on a Sunday following the playoffs, originally early to mid-January, then late January, and in recent years, the first Sunday in February.

The Super Bowl is usually the most-watched U.S. television broadcast of the year, attracting many companies to spend millions of dollars on commercials. This has caused the starting time of the game to be pushed back later and later, to ensure the Sunday night prime time audience on the East Coast. The last true day game (which ended before local sunset) of the series was Super Bowl XI in January 1977.

In addition, many popular singers and musicians have performed during the Super Bowl's pre-game and halftime ceremonies. This is the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, following Thanksgiving.[1]

The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather than the year it was held. The NFL season spreads over two calendar years, so identifying the games by the year of the Super Bowl could cause some confusion. For example, the Indianapolis Colts, winners of Super Bowl XLI are the champions of the 2006 season, even though the championship game was played in February 2007.


[edit] Origins

The Super Bowl was created as part of the merger agreement between the National Football League (NFL) and its rival, the American Football League (AFL). After its inception in 1920, the NFL fended off several rival leagues before the AFL began play in 1960. The intense competitive war for players and fans led to serious merger talks between the two leagues in 1966, culminating in a merger announcement on June 8, 1966.

One of the conditions of the AFL-NFL Merger was that the winners of each league's championship game would meet in a contest to determine the "world champion of football". According to NFL Films President Steve Sabol, then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to call the game "The Big One".[2] During the discussions to iron out the details, AFL founder and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt had jokingly referred to the proposed interleague championship as the "Super Bowl." Hunt thought of the name after seeing his kids playing with a toy called a Super Ball.[3] The ball is now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The name was consistent with postseason college football games which had long been known as "bowl games" (the term originates from the Rose Bowl Game, which was in turn named for the bowl-shaped stadium in which it is played). Hunt only meant his suggested name to be a stopgap until a better one could be found.

After the NFL's Green Bay Packers convincingly won the first two Super Bowls, some team owners feared for the future of the merger, since many doubted that AFL teams could compete with their NFL counterparts. That all changed with one of the biggest upsets in American sports history, the AFL's New York Jets defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami. One year later, the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL Minnesota Vikings 23-7 and won Super Bowl IV in New Orleans, the last World Championship game played between the champions of the two leagues.

When the NFL and AFL merged into one combined league for the 1970 season, three NFL teams joined the 10 AFL teams to form the American Football Conference (AFC), and the other 13 teams became the National Football Conference (NFC). Since then, the Super Bowl has featured the champions of the AFC and NFC, which are determined each season by the league's playoff tournament. As of Super Bowl XL, former AFL teams have won 12 Super Bowls, pre-1970 NFL teams have won 26 games, and two games have been won by teams created after 1970.

The NFL commissioner at that time, Pete Rozelle, is often considered the mastermind of both the merger and the Super Bowl. His leadership guided them into the merger agreement and cemented the preeminence of the Super Bowl. The game remains his crowning achievement and was an important factor in him being selected by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

The winning team gets the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for the coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowl games. Following his death in September 1970, the trophy was named the Vince Lombardi Trophy, first awarded at Super Bowl V in Miami.

[edit] Television coverage

By any measure, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched television programs of the year in the U.S. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings which usually come in around a 40 rating and 60 share (i.e., on average, 40 percent of all U.S. households, and 60 percent of all homes tuned into television during the game). This means that on average, 80 to 90 million Americans are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment. It is also estimated that 130-140 million tune into some part of the game.[4] NFL press releases have stated that recent Super Bowls have been available to potential audiences of approximately one billion worldwide, although independent studies suggest that the average global viewership is just under 100 million – the vast majority of whom are U.S. viewers [5] (as compared to the estimated 1.1 billion people who watched the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup).

Given the immense popularity of the Super Bowl, it may be surprising to discover that videotapes of the telecasts of the first two Super Bowls are not known to exist. This is especially shocking for Super Bowl I, which was covered by both NBC and CBS. According to Sports Illustrated, the only footage of the first telecast known to exist is a two minute clip of the first game.[citation needed] From the early days of television into the 1960s, copies of TV broadcasts were routinely erased, known as wiping, mainly because nobody thought anyone would want to watch the same show they had just seen. Another reason was that videotape in those days was prohibitively expensive.

The highest rated game according to Nielsen was Super Bowl XVI in 1982 which was watched in 49.1% of households (73 share) or 40,020,000 households at the time. Super Bowl XVI is #4 on Nielsen's list of top-rated programs of all time, and 3 other Super Bowls (XII, XVII, XX) made the top 10.[6] Although the proliferation of cable and satellite television has undercut broadcast ratings somewhat in recent years, the game is still so popular that a number of networks actually schedule original programming, such as independently produced halftime entertainment, during the game, simply to take advantage of a large audience already in front of the television.

Following Apple Computer's 1984 commercial introducing the Apple Macintosh computer, directed by Ridley Scott, the broadcast of the Super Bowl became the premier showcase for high concept or simply extravagantly expensive commercials. Famous commercial campaigns include the Budweiser "Bud Bowl" campaign, and the 1999 and 2000 dot-com ads. Prices have increased each year, with reports citing a record US$2.6 million for a 30 second spot during Super Bowl XLI in 2007. Many people tune in to the Super Bowl solely to watch the creative commercials.

[edit] Coverage by American television networks

Network Games Scheduled Games covered

The television network showing the game changes from year to year. Over the course of the previous TV contract, in the United States, it was rotated among three of the four major television networks: ABC, CBS, and FOX. With the television contracts which began in 2006, NBC, whom last telecast XXXII in 1998, will take ABC's place in the network rotation starting with XLIII in 2009.

The Denver Broncos are the only franchise to have played in a Super Bowl televised by each network (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX).

[edit] Entertainment

Earlier Super Bowls/NFL Championships featured halftime show consisting of marching bands from local colleges or high schools. But as the popularity of the game increased, so did the potential of exposure. This has led to trend where a number of popular singers and musicians have performed during its pre-game ceremonies, the halftime show, or even just singing the national anthem of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" (see Super Bowl anthem performers). Super Bowl XL in 2006 featured Stevie Wonder, Joss Stone, and John Legend during the pre-game ceremonies; Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, and Dr. John performed the national anthem; and The Rolling Stones played during the halftime show. Unlike regular season or playoff games, one hour is allocated for the Super Bowl halftime.

During halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in the year 2004, Justin Timberlake removed a piece of Janet Jackson's top, exposing her right breast with a star-shaped ring around the nipple. Timberlake and Jackson have maintained that the incident was accidental, calling it a "wardrobe malfunction." To make matters worse, the game was airing on CBS, and MTV (at the time, a corporate sister company of CBS within Viacom), produced the halftime show. Immediately after that live (not tape-delayed) moment, the producer cut to a very wide-angle shot and the announcer said, "Thank you for watching the Super Bowl halftime show!" followed immediately by a commercial break. However, viewers with TiVo captured the moment in detail, and video captures circulated quickly on the Internet.

The NFL, embarrassed from the incident, permanently banned MTV from doing another halftime show in any capacity. This also led to the FCC tightening controls on indecency and fining CBS US$225,000 for the incident, as well as fining each of CBS's then twenty owned and operated stations. The following year, Paul McCartney gave an uncontroversial halftime performance for Super Bowl XXXIX.

Further information: Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy

Except for Super Bowl XXXIX, the famous "I'm Going to Disney World!" Advertising campaign took place at every Super Bowl since it started at Super Bowl XXI. Typically, Disney did ran the ad several times during the game showing several players from both teams practicing the catch-phrase. The campaign has been restarted for Super Bowl XLI.

[edit] Venue

Looking towards Ford Field the night of Super Bowl XL.
Looking towards Ford Field the night of Super Bowl XL.

The location of the Super Bowl is chosen by the NFL well in advance, usually 3 to 5 years before the game. Cities compete to host the game in a selection bidding process.

Over half of the Super Bowls have been played in one of three cities: New Orleans, Louisiana (nine times, six times at the Louisiana Superdome and three times at now-demolished Tulane Stadium), the Greater Miami Area (nine total, five times at Miami's Orange Bowl and three times at Miami Gardens' Dolphin Stadium), and the Greater Los Angeles Area (seven total, five times at Pasadena's Rose Bowl stadium and twice at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum). Tampa, Florida has hosted the Super Bowl three times (twice at the now demolished Tampa Stadium and one time at Raymond James Stadium). Miami Gardens has been selected to host Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Although Hurricane Katrina damaged the Louisiana Superdome and the city of New Orleans, it was renovated, and some city officials have stated that they would like to put in another bid sometime in the future. The last time the Los Angeles area hosted the game was Super Bowl XXVII in 1993; the area is currently not considered a possible venue after the league's two teams vacated the city in 1995: the Raiders moved back to Oakland, California, and the Rams moved to St. Louis, Missouri.

Coincidentally, no NFL team has ever played the Super Bowl on its own home turf. However, Super Bowl XIV (which involved the then-Los Angeles Rams) was played at nearby Pasadena's Rose Bowl stadium; and Super Bowl XIX (which involved the San Francisco 49ers) was played at the nearby Stanford Stadium on the Stanford University campus near Palo Alto. Neither of these stadiums (both neutral sites) has ever been a home to an NFL team (though the 49ers played a home game at Stanford Stadium vs. the New England Patriots after the Loma Prieta earthquake postponed the World Series a week and forced the 49ers from Candlestick Park.)

A potential venue currently must meet these qualifications in order to be a Super Bowl host:[citation needed]

  • Average high temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit in February, unless the game is being played in an indoor arena.
  • Stadium with 65,000 seats or more.
  • Space for 10 photo trailers and 40 television trucks.
  • 600,000 square feet of exhibit space for fan events.
  • Large, high-end hotel for teams and NFL.
  • 50,000 square feet of space for news media ("Radio Row").
  • Enough "quality" hotel rooms within a one-hour drive for 35% of the stadium's capacity.
  • Separate practice facilities for each team.

Exceptions are at the discretion of the NFL. For instance, cruise ships made up the discrepancy in hotel rooms for Jacksonville in Super Bowl XXXIX.

On March 5, 2006, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, a 'cold weather' city, was awarded the rights to host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. However, the game was contingent on the successful passage of two sales taxes in Jackson County, Missouri on April 4, 2006. The first tax would have funded improvements to Arrowhead, home of the Chiefs and the Kansas City Wizards Major League Soccer team, and neighboring Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball team. The second tax would have allowed the construction of a "rolling roof" between the two stadiums.[7] However, the second tax failed to pass. With increased opposition by local business leaders and politicians, Kansas City eventually withdrew its request to host the game by May 25, 2006.[8]

The Indianapolis Colts will likely bid to host Super Bowl games starting with Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season. The Colts will move from the RCA Dome (whose capacity of 61,000 is currently too small to host a Super Bowl) to Lucas Oil Stadium, a retractable-roof stadium which will meet the minimum seating capacity requirements. The Dallas Cowboys will also bid for future Super Bowls, since the New Cowboys Stadium in Arlington will seat in excess of 80,000 and have a retractable roof. Texas Stadium, the Cowboys' current home, protects fans from precipitation with its partial roof, but since the stadium is not climate-controlled, February temperatures in north Texas are too cold to host the game outdoors.

The designated "home team" alternates between the NFC team in odd-numbered years (the Chicago Bears in 2007), and the AFC team in even-numbered years (the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006). The home team is given the choice of either wearing their colored jerseys or their white ones; this started with Super Bowl XIII. It so happened that this was just in time for the Dallas Cowboys to wear their white jerseys as the designated home team. Prior to that, the home team always wore the dark jerseys. The Cowboys wore their rarely used blue uniform tops in Super Bowl V, and lost to the then-Baltimore Colts, which has led to the widely held belief that the Cowboys do not play well in their blue shirts. While most home teams in the Super Bowl choose to wear their colored jerseys, only the Cowboys in XIII and XXVII, the Washington Redskins in XVII, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL have worn white as the home team. The Cowboys (since 1965) and Redskins (since the arrival of coach Joe Gibbs in 1981) have traditionally worn white at home. Meanwhile, the Steelers, who have always worn their black jerseys at home since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, opted for the white jerseys after winning three consecutive playoff games on the road wearing white. The Steelers' decision was a mirror opposite of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The Patriots traditionally wore white jerseys at home during the 1985 season, but after winning playoff games on the road against the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins wearing their red jerseys, New England opted to wear red for the Super Bowl as the designated home team vs. the Chicago Bears.

[edit] Game history

A Super Bowl ring and a ticket for Super Bowl XI. A Super Bowl ring is given to each member of the winning team to commemorate their Super Bowl victory.
A Super Bowl ring and a ticket for Super Bowl XI. A Super Bowl ring is given to each member of the winning team to commemorate their Super Bowl victory.
The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, as commemorated by this stamp issued in 1999 by the United States Postal Service featuring the ticket for that first game.
The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, as commemorated by this stamp issued in 1999 by the United States Postal Service featuring the ticket for that first game.

[edit] Super Bowl loss jinx

From 1999 through 2006, only two (Tennessee, 2000 and Seattle, 2006) of the eight teams that lost the previous Super Bowl qualified for the playoffs (and on average the seven teams won 5½ games fewer in the season following a Super Bowl defeat), a collapse known commonly as the "Super Bowl Hangover".[9]

This trend, however, is a recent one. Prior to the 2000 season, teams that lost the Super Bowl had qualified for the postseason 26 times in the following season, compared to 24 times for defending champions, a mark that now stands even at 28-28. Overall, defending champions have seen their winning percentage drop further than losers have, albeit by a slight margin.

[edit] Super Bowl records

A separate set of records are maintained for the Super Bowl specifically.

Further information: Super Bowl records

[edit] Super Bowl coin toss results

The designated "away team" traditionally gets to call the coin toss which is used to determine which team will kickoff and which will receive. In the 41-year history of the Super Bowl, every team that has won the coin toss has elected to receive the opening kickoff. This is largely because the NFL does not allow the team that wins the coin toss to defer their choice to the second half,[citation needed] as is the case in high school and college football, and the game is not, by design, played in the type of extreme conditions that would grant an advantage to choosing a side of the field to defend. Below is a chart of the coin tosses performed to date:[10]

The NFC has won the coin toss nearly twice as often as the AFC. They have won the coin toss 27 times compared to 14 times for the AFC.

Statistically, there is little correlation between winning the toss and winning the Super Bowl. The record for the team winning the coin toss is 19-22, having been 17-13 after Super Bowl XXX. The team winning the toss has lost the game for the last four years and 9 times in the last 11 years.

[edit] Past Trends

With the history of the Super Bowl, the following have never occured:

  • No two wild card teams played in the same Super Bowl.
  • No Super Bowl game has ever gone into overtime play. The closest instances to overtime play were in Super Bowl V, Super Bowl XXXIV, Super Bowl XXXVI, and Super Bowl XXXVIII.
  • No Super Bowl has ever ended in a shutout. Super Bowl VII with Miami Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian's failed field goal attempt is perhaps the most dramatic example of a near shutout. The lowest number of points scored in a Super Bowl is 3, put up by those same Dolphins in the previous year's Super Bowl, Super Bowl VI.
  • No team has ever played at a Super Bowl in their home stadium. (Though Super Bowl XIX was played at Stanford Stadium which is a short distance from the 49ers' home stadium, Candlestick Park

[edit] NFL trademark issues

The NFL is vigilant on stopping unauthorized commercial use of its trademarked terms "NFL," "Super Bowl," or "Super Sunday"; as a result, many events and promotions timed to the game but not sanctioned by the NFL are forced to refer to it as "the big game," or with other generic descriptions.[11]

[edit] Trivia

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ USDA Offers Food Safety Advice for Your Super Bowl Party. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved on 2007-01-10.
  2. ^ Southerland, Edward (2007-02-06). 'The Big One' back again. The Herald Democrat. Retrieved on 2007-02-07.
  3. ^ Rex W. Huppke (2007-01-30). Legends of the Bowl (html). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2007-01-31. “Lamar Hunt, who died in December, coined the term Super Bowl in the late 1960s after watching his kids play with a Super Ball, the bouncy creation of iconic toy manufacturer Wham-O.”
  4. ^ Associated Press (2006-02-07). Super Bowl 2nd-most watched show ever. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  5. ^ Rushin, Steve (2006-02-06). A Billion People Can Be Wrong. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  6. ^ Television's Top-Rated Programs. Nielsen Media Research (2000-04-30). Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  7. ^ Chiefs sign new lease with Jackson County, team awaits April vote. Kansas City Chiefs (2006-01-24). Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  8. ^ Associated Press (2006-05-25). No rolling roof, no Super Bowl at Arrowhead. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  9. ^ Davis, Nate (2007-02-06). Little remedy for Super Bowl hangover. USA Today. Retrieved on 2007-02-06.
  10. ^ Heads or tails: history of the Super Bowl coin toss. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2007-02-07.
  11. ^ Gardner, Eriq (2007-01-29). Super Bowl, Super Trademarks: Protecting the NFL's IP. The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.. Retrieved on 2007-02-04.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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