I spent all week, and more than three quarters of the Super Bowl feeling like maybe the whole thing had jumped the shark?
Maybe it was the real-world concerns about the Coronavirus, or the Senate Impeachment trial…But, do you ever remember less excitement, less hype around the Super Bowl than this year?
We had arguably the two best teams from each conference, the San Francisco 49’ers from a major market and the Kansas City Chiefs, featuring Patrick Mahomes, the most exciting quarterback in the game today. Yet, the biggest talking point leading up to Sunday’s game concerned 49’ers offensive Assistant Katie Sowers, the first female, openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
I take it as a sure sign of progress that Sowers’ story, while significant on multiple fronts, received little sensationalism and zero push back. But, it also took me back to my initial question of whether or not Americans are over the Super Bowl?
It’s not like people aren’t still watching. The most watched TV program in each of the past 10 years has been the Super Bowl. However, overall viewing for last year’s game was down. As for yesterday’s numbers, we’ll soon see.
Which takes us to “why” people watch the Super Bowl, and if you think it’s for the game itself, guess again.
A 2018 poll by Office Pulse confirmed what many already suspected that the biggest reason most people watch is for the commercials.
The overwhelming majority of respondents to the question, “The day after the Super Bowl, I am most likely to talk about __” answered with the commercials at 40%, followed by the actual game at 21%, the halftime show at 10% and squares/office pool at 4%.
Let me ask you, what did you think of the commercials for this year’s Super Bowl?
The early research shows Google’s ad about their home assistance service touches on a man’s memories of his late wife hit home with viewers in a big way, but personally, I loved the Bill Murray ad based on his 1980’s comedy “Groundhog Day.” But, can you even remember what product the ad was promoting? (Jeep Gladiator, you’re welcome).
The most iconic Super Bowl ad, Apple’s groundbreaking “1984” happened 36 years ago. Ever since, we’ve received a steady diet of lame disappointments that have run the gamut, but, like current episodes of Saturday Night Live, relies mostly on celebrity appearances for impact… Murray’s ad being a prime example.
Still, the Super Bowl event has become an annual part of “Americana.” So much so, that you may be reading this post while recovering from “Super Bowl fever,” lying in your sick bed instead of sitting at your work cubicle.
According to a survey by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc., an estimated 17.5 million workers will miss some work time on Monday because of the game. If all workers who watch the Super Bowl come in just one hour late or spend one hour discussing the game instead of doing work, it could cost employers $1.78 billion.
That’s one reason why a teen in New York started an online petition to move the game from Sunday to Saturday, and as of Friday night, the petition received 50,000 signatures.
Still, to me, it all felt a bit…stale.
Then, Demi Lovato came out and crushed the National Anthem.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira proved that they really could compliment each other in a jam-packed halftime show, saluted Latin heritage and went a long way to erasing the lackluster performance by Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi from a year ago.
But, with 6:13 seconds left, the game itself seemed headed for a dusty spot on the bookshelf of Super Bowl memories, until Patrick Mahomes reminded himself, and everybody else, why we watch the game and why the game still matters.
Shaking off the stupor of a sub-par performance that had seen him throw his first two interceptions of the postseason, Mahomes rallied the Chiefs from a 10-point deficit, for the third game in a row, while becoming the youngest player in NFL history to win the Super Bowl MVP at 24.
There will be much second guessing of 49’ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was also the Offensive Coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when they gagged on a 28-3 lead over the England Patriots, three years ago, but the story is Mahomes.
Forget about the commercials or the factoids about how many chicken wings were consumed on Sunday (an estimated 1.4 billion), the Super Bowl is for and about the players, and something tells me we’ve only witnessed the start of Mahomes’ magic on the Super Bowl stage. At least, I hope so.