Super Bowl LVIII: An American Insight

The Super Bowl is a well known American phenomenon which I’m willing to bet most people outside of America don’t really understand much about past that it is the biggest, most important game of American football (every year). Over the last five years I have become an increasingly big fan of the sport, so much so that I am now and have always been a Philadelphia Eagles supporter.

This year I booked the day after the Super Bowl off work so I could stay up late eating hot dogs, nachos and drinking bourbon while watching the Kansas City Chiefs defend their title against the San Francisco 49ers. My friend who joined me and my girlfriend to watch the Super Bowl said in the buildup that America is a mad country; I happen to like America but he has a point and the Super Bowl proved to be pure confirmation of quite how bonkers the land of the free is.


For a starter, there was an alternative live game commentary by two of the actors from Spongebob Squarepants- in character. Weird. Then there’s the adverts (commercials if you prefer), oh the adverts! Watching the US broadcast gave a seriously weird insight into how celebrity and consumerism contend with religion.

The Super Bowl’s down time, of which there is a lot- even more than a normal game of American football, or football as the Americans call it, has more A-List celebrities than the Oscars’ red carpet. Beer, mobile phones and one advert which literally took the piss out of Americans being couch potatoes with people dressed as spuds watching TV in a field. It’s crazy.

I'd love to know how many people didn't clock quite how offensive or or at least cynical that was even though they made it funny. It was funny to us as English people, anyway. Couch potatoes.

The adverts probably took up as much screen time as the football. By comparison, sports advert breaks in England are essentially “make bets now”, followed by “don't bet or at least bet sensibly” followed by “do you need help with your mortgage” which I suppose is a logical progression. It’s more depressing though, sure. I’d like to think the USA has less of a gambling problem than the UK, but I doubt it. Still, feed me TV, Cheetos, Miller Light, pizza and I’ll forget about it.

Taylor Swift happens to be dating one of the Kansas City Chiefs players, Travis Kelce, an Alpha Male and very good player, with as much charm as your average John Terry. Him screaming in the Chief’s Coach Andy Reid’s face when something he didn’t like took place, was unpalatable. Still, he’s dating Taylor Swift and early on we started a tally of who gets more screen time: Taylor swift or Jesus. The Seps love Jesus, but not enough that he doesn’t get his own adverts; apparently people need reminding.

The game itself, which almost pales in comparison to all of the other crap, I have to say was fairly turgid; littered with errors and dominated by defences rather than attack. Let's face it, attacking plays are why people watch American football. The first quarter (twenty minutes of action stretched into an hour) had no action. Nil-nil. San Francisco won the second quarter 10-3. Which even with my rudimentary “math” made it 10-3 to the 49ers at halftime. The Super Bowl halftime is the pinnacle of US culture…

Usher was the halftime show which they made a massive thing about. Even though Usher to anyone outside America or even Las Vegas, let's face it is completely irrelevant. He did a medley of his nostalgic hits, which to be fair was exciting to watch all of the dancing and turns out I don't hate all of his music. In fact, I don't really hate his music at all, I'm just not that interested. I do like R&B but I'm more of a Dru Hill/ Blackstreet/Boyz 2 Men fan.

It did make me laugh that Usher managed to get his nipples out, yet when Janet Jackson did it (accidentally or not depending on who you believe) it was a scandal. I'll be honest, I preferred Janet Jackson's nipple- not because I fancy her just because it was more fun watching Puritans go into meltdown.

The Taylor Swift vs. Jesus tally was racking up slowly in Taylor Swift's favour although Jesus was mentioned explicitly, in fact advertised twice. An advert for Jesus, non denominational. I can't really get my head around the concept of that or really what they were selling apart from Jesus, but I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't like things being sold. The fucking communist.

As you might have guessed, I/we were more captivated by the peripheral pantomime than the actual game play. With a finely balanced, relatively low scoring game, the glitz and glam were what carried us along the long road to someone’s glory.

In terms of dragging things out, this is a country who can make their national anthem last about 40 minutes, it seems, with all of the warbling, so God bless them for sticking to that in their sport. During the Star Spangled Spanners, they cut to a shot of a player weeping. This is a man who is about to run headfirst into athletes who weigh 300 pounds and he’s crying at a garbage rendition of, frankly, one of the worst national anthems going. Mind you, I think all national anthems are shit, so no shade on the USA there.

My friend who is vastly more intelligent than me and more knowledgeable about the game of Gridiron, even though he does also support the Eagles, kept us engaged with sage understanding of the rules. He had plenty of time to do this because it felt like very little was happening on the pitch. My bottle of bourbon was evaporating and it is not an easy game to fully comprehend - and I’m a lifelong rugby player.

San Francisco did look to be edging it, which was a shame as I like the Chiefs, but I was a neutral really. Score some fucking touchdowns guys! At the end of the third, quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to store and put Kansas City (which isn’t in Kansas bizarrely) in the lead for the first time. The game was inching into interesting, as Kansas struck back, taking the lead 16-13 with minutes to play, and hours left to watch.

There are also film trailers, new ones, exclusives or premiers and to be honest they are one of the main good things about all of the advertisement which goes on during the ridiculously long show. As a film fan I enjoyed these, but hey, there’s a game on, hurry the fuck up. The Kansas City Chiefs duly got a field goal via Butt Fumble Harrison Butker, levelling it at 16-16 and after one more each, eventually the game went to overtime at 19-19.

The denouement, as an Englander struggling to learn the game, is that if even the players themselves don’t know the rules how the hell am I to? The 49ers scored a field goal and thought they’d won it. They hadn’t. Kansas took the ball back up the field where their bemused opposition conceded a touchdown- losing the game in the process. The San Francisco players later admitted they didn’t know what the current rules were; oddly, the Kansas team did. The winning edge, eh.

Super Bowl LVIII was enthralling by the end, but honestly almost too much to take in. Sport is a distraction from the real world and nothing about this carnival felt real. Obviously, I loved it.

Final Scores

San Francisco 49ers 22 - 25 Kansas City Chiefs

Jesus Christ 6 - 28 Taylor Swift


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