On Sunday, February 7, 2021 Super Bowl LV (55) will showcase a matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This Super Bowl will mark three milestones, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady will play in his record 10th Super Bowl, and with COVID-19 health restrictions limiting stadium capacity to 22,000 fans, it will be the lowest attended Super Bowl. Information in this blog was obtained from Super Bowl LV, List of Super Bowl Halftime Shows and Super Bowl History.
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History of the Super Bowl
Though the NFL officially formed in 1920, the Super Bowl did not happen until more than 40 years later.
In 1960, a group of businessmen who wanted to own football franchises, but were denied by the NFL, decided to launch an alternative league, known as the American Football League (AFL). For several years, the NFL and AFL were gridiron rivals, competing for fans, players, and support. Then, in 1966, owners negotiated an agreement to merge the leagues by 1970.
The first Super Bowl, which featured the AFL and NFL champions, took place in 1966. The game was originally called the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game,” which was not exactly catchy. The AFL Kansas City Chief’s owner, Lamar Hunt, proposed using the term “Super Bowl” to refer to the championship game.
After the leagues merged, the NFL split into two main conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions of each now play in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl I took place on January 15, 1967 and included the NFL’s Green Bay Packers against the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The game was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and even though ticket prices averaged just $12, it was the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. Still, the game aired on two different networks and drew in an audience of more than 61,000 fans.
During most of the Super Bowl’s first decade, the halftime show featured a college marching band. The show’s second decade featured a more varied show, often featuring drill teams and other performance ensembles; the group Up with People produced and starred in four of the performances. The middle of the third decade, to counter other networks’ efforts to counterprogram the game, saw the introduction of popular music acts such as New Kids on the Block, Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, Clint Black, Patti LaBelle, and Tony Bennett.
Starting with Super Bowl XXXII, commercial sponsors presented the halftime show; within five years, the tradition of having a theme, begun with Super Bowl III, ended, replaced by major music productions by arena rock bands and other high-profile acts.
In the six years immediately following an incident at Super Bowl XXXVIII, where Justin Timberlake exposed one of Janet Jackson’s breasts in an alleged “wardrobe malfunction”, all the halftime shows consisted of a performance by one artist or group. The musicians were primarily rock artists from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. These shows were considered “family friendly” and the time in which they took place has been described as “the age of reactionary halftime shows”. Since Super Bowl XLV, the halftime show has returned to featuring popular contemporary musicians, with the typical format featuring a single headline artist collaborating with a small number of guest acts.
The NFL does not pay the halftime show performers an appearance fee, though it covers all expenses for the performers and their entourage of band members, band management, technical crew, security personnel, family, and friends. The Super Bowl XXVII halftime show with Michael Jackson provided an exception, as the NFL and Frito-Lay agreed to donate and provide commercial time for Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation. In lieu of halftime payment, according to Nielsen SoundScan data, the halftime performers regularly experience significant spikes in weekly album sales and paid digital downloads due to the exposure.
Fun Facts About the Super Bowl
The following are a few of the many fun facts that can be found over the 55-year history of the game.
- The NFL restricts the use of the phrase “Super Bowl” for advertising purposes. Companies often must come up with creative alternatives, such as referring to it as the “Big Game.”
- The championship team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which is named after the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowls.
- With five defeats each, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are tied for the record for the most Super Bowl losses.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots each have six Super Bowl victories—the most of any team. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers each have five wins.
- Because the football season runs into two calendar years, Roman numerals are used to identify each Super Bowl.
- A typical 30-second commercial that airs during the Super Bowl costs advertisers more than $5 million.
- Nearly 14 million Americans are expected to call in sick to work the day after the Big Game, which is sometimes dubbed “Super Sick Monday.”