The Greatest Spectacle in American Sports

Chris Smith, who works as a glass repairman in a Seattle auto shop, considers it perfectly normal to drive with his family the more than 2,000 kilometers that separate their city from Phoenix, Arizona, in order to show up for a football game that they do not have tickets for. They have come in a group of 20. Chris, with his wife and two daughters, drove 24 hours in a caravan. The younger daughter, Ashley, is missing three days of school. “We hope to find tickets somehow,” they said on Friday night, all dressed in Seattle Seahawks sweatshirts, in downtown Phoenix.

On Sunday, the Seahawks will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, the final of the National Football League and by far the most important sporting event of the year in the U.S. Few spectacles are capable of moving entire families like the Smiths (who also travelled to the Super Bowl in New York last year). Phoenix expects around 150,000 visitors from outside the state, with hotel prices skyrocketing. The city, which usually experiences ideal weather in January, has had bad luck in terms of rain and cold temperatures.

On the field, Tom Brady is the star. Brady, the Patriots’ quarterback (director of the game) is the only quarterback to ever lead a team to six Super Bowls. If he wins this Sunday, he will be the third in history to win four titles. The coach, Bill Belichick, would be the second coach in history to achieve this number. The Seahawks and their quarterback, Russell Wilson, hope to win their second consecutive title. Last year, they destroyed the Denver Broncos (43-8) in what was not only one of the greatest victories in a Super Bowl, but also the television broadcast with the largest audience in the history of the United States: 111.5 million viewers. If they win, the Seahawks will be the first team in a decade to win back-to-back Bowls. The most recent team to do so was the Patriots. Both teams base their success on strong defenses. Neither team has any sympathy for the other, which has contributed to the drama of this year’s match-up.

The figures do not allow comparisons with any other sporting event besides the World Cup, and unlike the World Cup, the Super Bowl is played every year. In terms of viewers, NBC is betting that it will beat last year’s record with broadcasts in 170 countries. The economic impact in the city will exceed more than $500 million, according to estimations by the organizing committee. The University of Phoenix’s stadium will have 72,000 spectators, with the most expensive ticket prices in the history of the sport. On Thursday, $9,000 was paid for the last tickets of the few that made it to the ticket box, according to ESPN. The prices for advertising space are also the highest ever, with 30 seconds costing $4.5 million. Around one million people will stop by Super Bowl Central, a huge trade show surrounding the game that occupies four blocks of the city’s downtown. At the exhibition, sponsors of the event offer activities and free concerts while overwhelming visitors with marketing.

The event has also coincided with the Pro Bowl, the all-star game, which took place last week. Additionally, Phoenix hosted the Waste Management Open for golf this Friday. The Open is one of the tournaments with the highest number of spectators in the world — up to 600,000 in attendance, according to the organizers. On Friday, the areas surrounding the Open were a sea of cars parked in mud.

On Friday, Seattle fans loudly chanted, “Seahawks!” through the streets of Phoenix. However, one shouted ahead of time something that will be heard in the stadium on Sunday: “Deflate!” The Patriots arrive at this final [game] surrounded by a strange odor, after the League disclosed that it has found proof that 11 balls used in the last qualification game against the Indianapolis Colts were somewhat deflated. A slightly softer ball helps the quarterback’s ball control and subsequently favors pass reception. The NFL discovered the scandal barely two weeks before the Super Bowl, but saved itself the sanction to disqualify the Patriots that some asked for. The investigation continues its course. While the team has completely disassociated itself with the subject, it is not clear if even a Super Bowl win will free the Patriots from suspicion.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply