At a time when our country can feel divided in so many ways, it is refreshing that a much anticipated event takes place each year that can be a much welcomed if not temporary respite from the every day. Yes, it is Super Bowl Sunday and the pizza will never taste as good.
The Super Bowl was especially special in its early iterations as it brought together the tough tradition of the NFL to battle with the then new and upstart AFL. Originally known as the Dallas Texans, QB Len Dawson’s crew had since moved to Kansas City and the Chiefs would play Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 1 in 1967. The game would attract more than 50 million viewers on two networks (CBS and NBC). The game continues to be a viewership unifier unlike few others. By way of comparison, in 1964, 73 million tuned in to the “Ed Sullivan Show” to see the Beatles perform for the first time in America.
Of course, there were only a few TV channel options in those days. Yet, despite social media and video games, the Super Bowl continues to this day to reach the majority of this nation and beyond – to the tune of over 111 million viewers the past two years. This also despite the fact that the desire to see the new big game ads has been tempered by YouTube, where you can see all of the new TV spots within virtually seconds of their airing (if not before). Halftime shows have helped there with some of the most elite musical acts ever continuing to take the stage.
For today’s contest between the New England Patriots vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, many are interested in whether viewership levels will decline as they did during the regular season of roughly 10%. Many blame “the knee.” Some blame others who “trumped” up the incident. Either way, we should respect this rare instance where so many of us come together for a shared experience that often lasts not only through the game and next day around the water cooler but for a lifetime.