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Super Bowl is More Than a Game

More than a hundred million Americans are expected to watch the New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday in the championship of American professional football.

Unofficially, Super Bowl Sunday has become a national holiday in the United States. It's more than a just a football game. It's a chance for family, friends and fans to get together. But, it also gives companies with lots of money to spend on advertising a captive audience for almost five hours. VOA's Brian Purchia takes a look at the 39th Super Bowl.

Football is King in the United States.

Its championship game has come a long way from the first Super Bowl in 1967, when Green Bay beat Kansas City in front of a half-empty stadium. Over the years the game became a “must” for millions of Americans.

"Unbelievable game. It looks good. I hope you're enjoying it at home. We're enjoying it right here in Texas," said a football fan.

"It's surreal to be here, front row. It's amazing," said another fan.

This year's game is in Jacksonville, Florida. There is a week of hyperbole and media frenzy before the game. But, New England Patriot Rodney Harrison says he enjoys every minute. "You never get tired of it. You might get tired of people asking you for tickets and stuff like that, but you never get tired of the actual week and the game."

That's what advertisers who spend millions for TV commercials are counting on.

Wally Snyder is the President of the American Advertising Federation: "This is a holiday, this is a major American holiday. If you happened to be lucky enough to be from one of the two cities - if you're either from the New England Patriots or also from the Philadelphia Eagles - you're going to have more fun then anybody, but the whole point is a total package of entertainment. It's beginning now and it's going to last through the Super Bowl," said Snyder.

On Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles will try to stop the New England Patriots from winning their third championship in four years. Millions of Americans will watch the game on TV, and many of them will be attending Super Bowl parties.

Matt Winkler teaches sports management at George Washington University. He says, "It's become a true cultural phenomenon in America, kind of matching what we like in sports, and that's aggression, and what we like in hosting parties and being a social occasion where everybody can come together and unite around one event."

Unlike some sporting events, Super Bowl parties attract all types.

"There's a lot of meeting and mingling, it's not just a bunch of grown men sitting around harrumphing while watching the game," said Matt Winkler.

Wally Snyder thinks, "This is really a great opportunity to reach the largest television audience in the country. Fifty million men watched the game last year, but there were 40 million women who watched and that's the largest show for them as well."

While some viewers see the game as an excuse for a party, others watch for the extravagant half-time show and others tune in mostly to see the newest commercials.

The President & CEO of the American Advertising Federation said, "This is the biggest day for advertising in America. Last year there was a 140 million dollars spent to buy the advertising time on the Super Bowl. I suspect that will go up this year because the cost of a 30 second commercial has gone up to about two and a half million dollars."

It is also the number one gambling day of the year.

"Anything you want to bet on you can, that's for sure," said one gambler.

More than 300 million dollars was gambled legally last year.

Matt Winkler says, "It's another communal activity that brings people together for more than a ‘rooting interest’ in the game."

America's premier football game will be broadcast live into homes across the United States on Sunday and into 146 countries, even though people outside the United States may still scratch their heads and wonder why we insist on calling it “football.”