The Super Bowl – From Then Until Now
By Space Coast Daily // February 10, 2023
The time is almost here for the Super Bowl to get underway.
This year we get to witness the Philadelphia Eagles battle it out against the Kansas City Chiefs. When it comes to Super Bowl betting, this is one of those years where it’s hard to call out a winner. Things have even taken a slightly amusing turn, with Tottenham Hotspur players looking at which teammates would make the best NFL players. This is just one way, along with many others, that the Super Bowl has changed.
What we see now as the Super Bowl seems a million miles away from what it first was. Of course, there is still the passion for the game itself, but it appears that the event has now developed its own culture. From something that fans could take or leave, we’re now at a stage where 100 million people around the globe tune in, looking to see if their favourite team will take the crown.
We’re going to take a look at the Super Bowl in a little more detail. We’re going to consider its small beginnings and try and understand how it has gone on to become the phenomenon that we all know and love today.
Before we can truly appreciate just how much the Super Bowl has grown, it’s worth taking a look a little further back at the history of the game. If you look back to 1920, in Canton, Ohio, a group came together and began to discuss the idea of creating a nationwide league for pro American football layers. It began life known as the American Professional Football Association before being renamed the National Football League (NFL) in 1922.
James Thorpe became the first president of the league and many people today will state that it’s his efforts that led to the league reaching the levels of popularity that it has today. While smaller leagues began to emerge, the NFL truly dominated and completely shut these down. That was until the emergence of a new rival: the American Football League (AFL).
How the AFL lead to the birth of the Super Bowl
The AFL was different to anything that the NFL had witnessed before. While the NFL could normally brush rivals aside, the AFL continued to grow to the extent that it began to pose a significant threat. The success experienced by the AFL came down to the fact that teams were signing up players who had been rejected by the NFL. These previous rejects had much to prove and prove themselves they did.
It wasn’t long before the NFL and AFL were at loggerheads. Each was looking to sign the best players the moment that they stepped out of college. An agreement was reached whereby neither league would sign a player who was already contracted to the other. This worked until an NFL team signed a player from the AFL’s Buffalo Bills when all-out war was declared. This saw the AFL scouting and signing numerous NFL players and the game began to get out of hand.
Eventually, differences were set aside and the leagues reached an agreement on how players could be tapped. As part of this agreement, there was to be a head-to-head between the winners of each league so that it could be established who really was the best.
The first Super Bowl
On January 15th 1967, the Green Bay Packers faced the Kansas City Chiefs in what was the first-ever Super Bowl. This meeting of teams is what we now have to thank for the modern-day Super Bowl and the rivalries are just as intense.
This first Super Bowl looked a little different to what we see today. Back then, tickets were up for grabs for a very reasonable $12. There was no huge entertainment at halftime. Instead, it was more of a traditional affair with marching bands drafted in from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University.
Alongside these marching bands, spectators were also treated to some 300 pigeons and 10,000 balloons. There was even a demonstration from the Bell Rocket Air Men, flying through the air while propelled by hydrogen peroxide.
The Super Bowl of today
Looking back at the very first Super Bowl, it’s fair to describe it as modest by today’s standards. Whereas you could get your hands on a ticket for $12, today you’re looking at paying closer to $6,000 for the privilege. The first Super Bowl, despite its price, was the only one not to sell out. Today, people are desperate to get tickets and the action is also streamed to over 170 countries around the world.
The halftime entertainment is now also a million miles away from pigeons and balloons. Today, it’s all about star acts with the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Janet Jackson previously stealing the show. This year, that honour falls to Rhianna who’ll be looking at boosting her profile as she mounts her comeback. With 100 million plus eyes on proceedings, this is certainly a great opportunity for her.
There are also commercials to consider. The first Super Bowl didn’t really create the stir that we see today. Nowadays, there are fans who tune in purely to watch the ads. That’s because companies put so much into these as they make the most of such a massive audience. These companies are willing to spend $7 million plus just to grab your attention for less than a minute.
It’s fair to say that today’s Super Bowl is a staple part of American culture. It’s a time when family and friends come together to eat, drink and cheer on their chosen team. While the competition will always have its roots in the deep rivalry that existed between different leagues, today there’s so much more to enjoy and Super Bowl Sunday is a day that the entire county looks forward to.
In the space of five decades, the Super Bowl has truly transformed itself. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.