It is the second-most important event involving food and sports. It comes early and comes only once a year. It's Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one body (without the ugly sweater your aunt Caroline got you or that really bad spinach dip you cousin Michelle made for your Christmas party... no wonder she's STILL single, she's such a bad cook.)
What is it, you ask?
Super Bowl Sunday. The Sunday where most of America gets together and watches the final football game of the season.
How important is Super Bowl Sunday (or Super Bowl week) to Americans for that matter? Well, in a grander sense, there are the ads that will be talked about for years to come. It's an advertiser's last chance to get his (or her) message through to the American consumer and they only have 30 seconds to do it and they better get it right. A great ad will be talked about for years over water cooler everywhere (the Budweiser Clysdales, for example), while a really bad ad will have people saying "what the hell were they thinking?"
A 30-second ad in 1967 would run you $42,000. Keep in mind that that's 1967 money. That same 30 second ad will now cost you (drumroll, please!) $3,800,000 (or one of Derek Jeter's game checks!). Hence the importance of getting it right the first time. Ed Erhardt, ad sales president for ESPN/ABC Sports, says that “The Super Bowl remains sports’ premier ad event. It has an engagement value that is second to none. People come that day riveted to that TV and the number-one thing that many of them want to watch is this advertising.”
That's the ads. Then there's the halftime show, which some actually watch (even if it's for a wardrobe malfunction, which was the case in Houston in 2003). Some acts were pretty good (Madonna last year, Bruce Springsteen two years ago) and some were really horrid to the point where people changed the channel to watch Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.
If you're thinking about getting tickets to this year's game, forget it! Not gonna happen. Sorry. Last year, a ticket to see Eli Manning and the New York Giants beat Tom Brady and New England ranged anywhere from $1,200 (for the REALLY GOOD SEATS!) to a whopping $600 to sit in the nosebleed section.
Save your pennies and dress warm for next year's game, which is going to be played at Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands. The same can be said for hotels. Super Bowl is one of those times where most of the hotels have been taken over by the NFL, the teams that in the game, the officials, broadcasters, talent and those that are working the game behind the scenes. Even Mary and Joseph couldn't get a room. And if you're thinking about planning a wedding, you might want to put that off a week. Getting a hotel room that time of year in a city that hosts a Super Bowl would be a miracle.
Suprisingly, there's the game itself. People do actually watch the events that are taking place. The National Football League recently put out their post-season media guide which discussed some of the reasons why people watch the game. Of those people that were polled for the survey...
92.1% watched the game
5.6% watched just for the commercials
0.9% watched for the halftime show
0.3% because a spouse, friend or significant other took them to a party
1.2% said they didn't watch the Super Bowl
The last time the Big Easy hosted the Big Game, they threw a huge party. How huge? According to USA Today, the grocery list for the "World's Largest Tailgate Party" included:
• 250 gallons of crawfish étouffée
• 8,000 blackened chicken breasts
• 200 gallons of shrimp Creole
• 1,000 pounds of BBQ ribs
• 5,000 Louisiana crabcakes
• 150 gallons of corn and crab bisque
• 350 gallons of jambalaya
• 150 gallons of crawfish Cardinale
• 200 gallons of red beans and rice
• 4,000 crawfish beignets
• 3,000 bratwurst
• 3,000 oyster ravioli
• 3,000 knockwurst
• 2,000 fried oyster po-boys
• 50,000 hot dogs
• 2,000 fried shrimp po-boys
• 10,000 hamburgers
• 1,000 fried catfish
• 200 gallons of seafood gumbo
• 2,000 muffalettas
• 1,500 pounds of rice
• 1,000 heads of romaine lettuce
• 10 gallons of hot sauce
• 1,000 grilled chicken Caesar salads
• 10,000 pizzas
• 1,000 bags of potato chips
That does not include paper goods (plates, forks, knives, glass ware, beverages or Alka Seltzer.)
Imagine your Super Bowl party being that big and your cousin Connie came over. (For those of you that don't know Connie, she's 55, weighs about 115 pounds, married twice with two kids and dates a 40-year old former Marine that is now a football coach and once by herself ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn't gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, "what the hell?")
There is one more thing (as Lieutenant Columbo once said)... Super Bowl week is a great time to buy a new TV, especially a flat screen. According to USA Today, some 1,500,000 sets were sold or to be sold the week before Super Bowl XXXIX. Make sure the cable or dish bill is paid.
So there is it. The Super Bowl. For three hours on a Sunday in February, while some are shoveling snow and getting ready for a long winter, others are indoors getting ready to watch a game and hope it's their team. If you're on the winning side, you'll get a nice chunk of change, to the tune of $88,000 per player. The losers? They get paid too but not as much, taking home a mere $44,000. (We all know that $88k's a lot of money)
When Super Bowl XLVII (47, for those of us that are Roman numeral challenged) rolls around at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time February 3rd on CBS, the nation will be eating and watching.
And hope that their ads and team does well.