Superbowl: US sports all about the show

Pictured: Katy Perry astride a giant lion in front of the 70,288 strong Arizona audience

The Super Bowl continued on its yearly trend of happening last weekend, and at a really inconvenient time, urgh. This didn’t stop many of the UK’s NFL fans staying up late to watch this all-American event in which the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24, in what by all accounts was a jolly good game.

Now I don’t really get the Super Bowl. Or American Football. Or any American sport in general for that matter, and I intend to get that point across in this half-article-half-rant that is usually reserved for someone to make an actual ‘sport pitch’ about important matters in the world of sport – last week we had a fantastic article about LGBT+ representation in professional sport for example. But not this week – oh no.

First on my perpetual list of dislikes of American football are the scenes of jubilant celebration that go with just about any kind of score – the fanfare that accompanies a touchdown, a slam dunk or a home run is ridiculously crazy and makes me kind of angry. A batsman in cricket will spend hours, maybe even days reaching a century; a feat of incredible technical and mental ability, and in celebration will simply point his bat at the crowd as if he’s acknowledging his mother among the spectators. A baseball ‘hitter’ meanwhile will in the space of a few seconds hit a ball really far, and run around like his Euromillions ticket has come up (or his ’Mega Millions’ ticket, WHATEVER).

This is apparent in most American sports. The guy who scores the touchdown for the *American city name + American thing name*s will callously attempt to puncture the ball by smashing it as hard as he can against the poor defenceless turf, and will then proceed to do an aggressive dance and bump chests with his ecstatic teammates, who mob him and attempt to crush his internal organs with some sort of all-team pile-on – some thanks that is.

In comparison basketball players are pretty cool in their celebration, insomuch that they don’t typically do them – all credit to them for that. However, the pandemonium that ensues when a dunk is indeed slammed on account of the coaching staff and substitute players are all sides of the court is surely intrusion and is just way over-the-top in every conceivable way.

The fact that American sports are built around the demands of advertisers is another gripe of mine. I personally like watching the sport, not the companies trying to flog their latest flimsy product or burger that will ultimately lead my blood to become pure cholesterol. Yet studies have shown that more people watch the ads during the Super Bowl than actually watch the sport. This is the sort of world that we live in now.

Other studies have demonstrated that in a game of American Football, during a three-hour broadcast the ball will be in play for eleven minutes of that time. Eleven – that’s 660 seconds, the same time it took Katy Perry to blast through her many ‘classic’ Americana pop anthems during the coveted half-time show. The rest of the time is dedicated to commercial breaks and replays where you can see beautiful, epic, slow motion panoramic shots of the many commercials scattered around the arena.

The crux of my argument is this: Americans sports are ultimately not about the sport – they’re about all of the paraphernalia that go with the box-office main event. Sure, the athletes are incredible examples of peak physical performance and they are undeniably incredibly talented, but the way that events such as the Super Bowl are organised doesn’t best serve them in showcasing those talents. Instead we get an orgy of adverts, pop divas and mindless pundits endlessly looping instant replays of apparently amazing plays.

In addition: the fans seem too happy for their own good, the teams have annoying names, every coach is the same fat man with the same fat moustache, the mascots are plainly ridiculous, the referees remind me of Footlocker employees, and I don’t like Footlocker very much. All of these things are contributing factors to my clear, immense, and perfectly reasoned dislike of the Super Bowl, and almost all of them apply to all other American sports as well; from basketball to baseball.

This is probably all completely inaccurate and unfair, and many of the large and imposing members of the Cardiff Cobras American Football Club will probably seek me out and destroy me, but this is just how I see it. If American sports relapsed and focused on the actual sport, my views may change, but for now, all the Super Bowl achieves for me is the evacuation of my super bowels.

Watch: Katy Perry’s Superbowl XLIX’s halftime show


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