The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). It marks the end of the season, which begins during the previous summer. Football is one of the most popular professional sports in the United States.
The first Super Bowl, Super Bowl I, was held on January 15, 1967. It was created as part of merger negotiations between the American Football League (AFL) and the NFL. Founded in 1920, the NFL began to experience competition for players and spectators when the AFL was formed in 1960. The two leagues agreed to call the game the ‘AFL-NFL Championship Game’. It was Lamar Hunt, owner of the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs who coined the name ‘Super Bowl’ to refer to the championship game. He got the idea for the name from the college football championships similarly named: the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl. The name ‘Super Bowl’ stuck when the media began using it, and it became the official name of the game in Super Bowl III. When NFL’s Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, many began to wonder if the AFL could be as competitive as the NFL. That concern ended when the AFL’s New York Jets won the third Super Bowl.
When the merger of the two leagues was completed in 1970, the NFL reorganized into two conferences. The former AFL teams and three NFL teams (the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburg Steelers, and Baltimore Colts) became the American Football Conference (AFC) and the remaining NFL teams became the National Football Conference (NFC). The champions of the two conferences play each other in the Super Bowl.
The team who wins the Super Bowl receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. It was first awarded after Lombardi’s death in 1970. The Baltimore Colts were the first to receive it when they won the fifth Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is played on a Sunday as the final game of the NFL Playoffs. Historically, the game has taken place in January or February. The earliest the game has ever been played was Super Bowl XI, held on January 9, 1977. Over time the game has been moved from the second Sunday in January to the third, then the fourth. It is currently held on the first Sunday in February. As the league expanded the number of weeks in the regular season from 14 to 16, the number of teams participating in the playoffs from 4 to 12, and the addition of a ‘bye’ week in which certain teams do not play, the league has needed to push the date of the Super Bowl later into the winter.
February is a big month for television, a “Sweeps Month”. Sweeps months are important for determining how much a network can charge for its advertising spots. Advertising fees are determined by the number of people watching a network, called viewership. In February, networks try to show programs that they feel confident many people will want to watch. The network that carries the Super Bowl gains a lot of viewers on that date , driving up its viewership numbers for the month. This allows it to charge higher prices from companies buying time for commercials on that network.
The network that broadcasts the Super Bowl game not only gets a big boost in viewer numbers for February, it can charge a large amount of money for commercials shown during the Super Bowl. Since so many people watch the Super Bowl, companies that buy advertising time during it also spend a lot of money to make commercials that grab peoples’ attention. In addition, the NFL invests a large amount of money into the half-time show as a way to appeal to more people and expand its audience. Not only is the Super Bowl one of the most watched televised events in the United States, many people the world over watch it.
What about the players, coaches and trainers who get their teams into the playoffs? They earn extra pay, “bonuses”, with those whose teams winning the Super Bowl earning the largest bonuses and receiving a gold and diamond ring of approximately $5,000 in value.