There was a time when the World Series was America’s greatest sporting event. But that started to change when pro football’s Super Bowl came on the scene in 1967.
It didn’t initially take off, but through the years it has become our nation’s top sports event. When Super Bowl LI takes place in Houston at NRG Stadium on Sunday there will be a sold-out crowd of 71,745 with more than 100 million people watching on television as the Atlanta Falcons make their second trip to the game to take on the New England Patriots.
More folks will be watching than voted for Donald Trump or for Hillary Clinton in the recent Presidential election.
The first two “Super Bowls” were actually called the World Championship game. The official “Super Bowl” connotation didn’t come about until the third game when Joe Namath guaranteed his New York Jets would beat Baltimore, which they did 16-7 despite being 19-point underdogs.
To give you an idea how the game has changed, tickets for the first game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs were $12 each. The contest was played at the 93,000-seat Los Angeles Coliseum and was far from a sellout as only 61,946 fans showed up to watch the Packers take a 35-10 victory.
The game was broadcast by both CBS and NBC and attracted a total audience of 51 million with 30-second commercials going for $42 thousand each Jump to the 1980 Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl, between the Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers (the only one I have ever attended), and the ticket price was $30 each, television commercials were $185,000 and the game was viewed on television by 75 million. Pittsburgh won the game 31-19.
In 1995, the retail ticket price had jumped to $200, 30-second commercials sold for $1 million each, and television viewership had increased to 94 million. San Francisco routed the San Diego Chargers 49-26 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.
The 2014 Super Bowl saw the Seattle Seahawks pummel the Denver Broncos 43-8 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The average ticket price was $3,715 (the lowest retail ticket price was $800), a 30-second television commercial went for $4 million, and the number of people watching on the tube was 112 million.
When Green Bay defeated Dallas 34-31 on Jan. 15, tickets on the secondary market for this year’s Super Bowl dropped 20 percent, which shows you the value that Dallas brought to the game. The average ticket price this year is $4,433.
The 2015 Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Patriots (won by New England) is the most watched American television program in history at 114.4 million viewers. The seven most watched television programs in U.S. television history are Super Bowls.
Super Bowl Sunday is a day for eating. Behind Thanksgiving Day it is the second largest day for U.S. food consumption. According to the National Restaurant Association, Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year for pizza sales. Wings and beer are also big on the list of items consumed on the big game day. The National Chicken Council estimates that 1.3 billion chicken wings were eaten during last year’s game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Americans also took in 325 million gallons of beer during the Super Bowl.
If you are not into the game, but more about the halftime show, the Super Bowl has had some entertaining acts. The first to perform was Jazz trumpeteer Al Hirt at Super Bowl I. The long halftime guest list through the years includes the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry to mention a few. This year Lady Ga Ga takes center stage at halftime.
Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial national holiday in the United States, and I can’t wait as the Falcons are finally back in the big game.
Atlanta 31, New England 24.
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org