Is the Super Bowl the greatest sporting spectacle?

Whether packing the host venue or glued to their TV screens at home, nothing quite captures the imagination of American sports fans like the annual Super Bowl. Since the annual American football championship game was first held in 1967, not only has this become the most important event in the North American sporting calendar, audiences in the hundreds of millions are now tuning in from every corner of the globe.

The most iconic sporting event in America

The excitement is already building ahead of Super Bowl LV, which will be held this year at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. For many the players and staff of both teams, this will be the pinnacle of their sporting careers, as they battle for the honor of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the game, basking in the glory and victory of becoming the best team in the NFL.

Few events in the sporting world make such an impressive impact, with Super Bowl betting generating millions of dollars in revenues. Indeed, Super Bowl LIV in 2020 is estimated to have generated around $6.8 billion in betting revenue in America alone. This year, it’s estimated that more than 30 million people in the US will be placing bets on the game, backing everything from the winning team and point spreads, to which player claims the MVP award.

Nothing can match the sense of emotion felt by players and fans alike, as the level of tension and anticipation builds ahead of the big game itself. Once the action begins, there’s rapt attention to every play, every throw of the ball by star quarterbacks, every interception or catch, every scrimmage and every crunching tackle. This is the game where players can make their names immortal in American sporting history.

Highest value TV advertising in the world

Dubbed as the “Super Nielson Bowl” by media across the United States when the first championship game was broadcast, the average cost of a 30-second TV advert was $42,500 back in 1967 and viewership has continued to grow. Over time, those advertising slots have soared impressively to the extent that for Super Bowl LIV in 2020, the average cost of a 30-second slot was valued at over $5.6 million.

Many of the biggest and most iconic brands in the world vie for these advertising slots, simply because the Super Bowl is one of the few remaining “must-see” events that appears on our TV screens, which even makes it cultural experience. Aside from the cost of airing their adverts during the game, some of the biggest brands in the world compete to make the most creative and memorable commercials they can, often leaving a lasting impression.

We can only guess at what superstars of music and movies are paid, when they make cameo appearances in these commercials, not to mention the production costs on top of what brands are prepared to pay for the Super Bowl advertising slots. Considering that beyond the action during the game, millions of people actually tune in just to watch the halftime show and these uniquely produced commercials, major brands consider the investment worthwhile.

The national anthem and the halftime show

Far more than just a sporting event, the Super Bowl has become an iconic source of great national pride for millions of Americans, even if they’re not avid football fans. What better way to capture that sense of pride than by singing the national anthem ahead of games, and nothing can quite raise goosebumps than a heartfelt rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

Perhaps one of the most iconic and emotive renditions of The Star Spangled Banner came at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, which tugged at the heartstrings of anyone watching. There was barely a dry eye in the house at the Tampa Stadium in Florida, as the unmistakable voice of Whitney Houston sang the national anthem. 22-year-old R&B artist Just Sam will have the honor of performing the national anthem at Super Bowl LV.

There’s also the halftime show which has become an audiovisual extravaganza, carefully stage-managed, and choreographed with some of the biggest names in entertainment participating. Things don’t always go to plan, however, as many will recall when Janet Jackson had an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl XXXVII in 2004, aided by Justin Timberlake. Still, even people who don’t like sports tune into the Super Bowl halftime show, which is always an amazing spectacle in its own right.

The greatest show on earth?

Combining all these factors and many more, there’s no doubt the Super Bowl has become the greatest sporting spectacle in America, if not the world. Particularly in the United States, it has become a yearly event that’s widely enjoyed by families and friends throughout the whole country, even becoming as important as national holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas for some people.

Although the Super Bowl has become the undisputed champion of TV audiences in America, while it does reach millions of viewers around the world, live audiences don’t quite compare to other major sporting events. Given that both events are held every four years, more people still tune into the Summer Olympics or the World Cup Finals in soccer, which gives them reason to claim that internationally, they are perhaps the greatest sporting spectacles.

Nevertheless, there’s just something unique and special about the Super Bowl that nothing else can touch, whether it’s the pulsating action of the game itself or the razzamatazz and whole spectrum of entertainment which surrounds it. Seriously, there is really no comparison.

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