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Sports Fans, US Businesses Await 'Super Bowl Sunday'

America - and a surprisingly large slice of the rest of the world - is about to plunge into Super Bowl Sunday: the annual championship final of the U.S. National Football League. The game [match] this Sunday (2/4) in Miami, Florida is the high point of the season for professional teams playing American-style football, but it is also a multibillion-dollar commercial event. VOA's Ernest Leong previews the excitement surrounding the game.

"Super Bowl Sunday" is virtually a holiday in the United States. Not an official holiday, of course, but many activities around the country will come to a halt when American-style football's championship contest begins in southern Florida.

This year the Super Bowl pits the Indianapolis Colts against the Chicago Bears. Over the past 40 years, the game has become an important part of the American sports calendar ... a time to get together with friends and neighbors ... and a big shopping event.

Millions of Americans -- more than ever before, according to a recent poll -- will be watching the big game in restaurants or bars, or hosting Super Bowl parties. And well over a million consumers are buying home entertainment centers, furniture or other accessories to enhance their viewing of the big game.

It all adds up to a huge payday: the National Retail Federation says nearly $9 billion will be spent on Super Bowl-related purchases.

The Super Bowl is no longer an exclusively American event. Last year, an estimated one billion people around the world tuned in to watch the game.

Taking advantage of cutting-edge technology, this year's Super Bowl will be broadcast in HD -- high-definition -- format TV.

Chuck Sanders, a manager at Best Buy, a big electronics store in Washington explains, "HD is generally a higher-definition signal versus a standard signal. Basically, you'll get a brighter, sharper picture than you would with a standard picture coming in the house."

And the best way to get the full effect of HD broadcasts is to watch them on high definition television sets -- the bigger, the better, and preferably a flat-screen model.

Salesmen like Abbey Giewa, at a Microcenter electronics store in the Washington suburbs, are expecting a big rise in HDTV sales. "Absolutely, because right now, [the shoppers are saying,] 'I want to share that experience with my family and friends. I want to have that big-screen TV," he explains. "I want to be the one to host the Super Bowl party.'"

Sanders adds, "It's an opportunity for everyone to entertain. So there are more people coming in looking for TVs versus any other time of the year."

Since the 1960s when the Super Bowl began, the game also has become a media event, featuring new commercials and a lavish half-time show with top names in entertainment.

So even if the football match turns out to be a dud [is boring], television viewers -- especially those with HDTV equipment -- can still enjoy the other attractions that make this Sunday really super.