Speaking of the Super Bowl

I had a conversation yesterday with a couple of young people and I realized that they had no memory of the time before the Super Bowl. By the time they were born the tradition was well established. It hasn’t, however, been going on forever. I remember the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game back in 1967. It wasn’t even called the Super Bowl back then. The Green Bay Packers won over the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t even close. The game was on January 15 in Los Angeles.

Back in those days (when the dinosaurs were still alive, boys and girls) football game half times were marching bands. This one had a high school drill team thrown in for good measure. Marching routines, including several by high school bands, were the norm until 1976, when a special half time show was created for the bicentennial. By then they were calling it the Super Bowl and using Roman Numerals. The center of the show was Up With People. They were the hit group for the next decade, appearing in a total of four half time shows.

From there, things sort of got out of hand, with headline performers, big time production companies, complex sets, fireworks, Michael Jackson’s performance in 1993 was said to increase the audience significantly, increasing the TV ratings. It has been claimed that it was the most watched event in television history. From that year on, the NFL worked hard to attract top performers for the shows.

I thought the 1997 show as pretty cool, with the Blues Brothers. With the Super Bowl in New Orleans that year, it all seemed to fit together pretty well. A lot of people think that the 2007 half time show, with Prince singing Purple Rain in the rain was one of the best shows. Maybe it made up for the 2004 show with the famous Janet Jackson costume failure. I didn’t see that one myself. Justin Timberlake was featured in that same show and he’ll be back for this year’s big event.

I’m not the biggest fan of football, though I do enjoy watching a game from time to time. My favorite, actually, is high school football when I know the players. And I don’t really care much about the half time shows, either. I have, from time to time, paid attention to the ads.

According to Business Insider this year the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad is $5 million. that’s $166,667 per second to reach 111 million viewers. It has been a fairly steep cost increase since that first game back in 1967, when a 30-second ad sold for $43,000, which was a pretty steep price at the time.

Add all of the advertisements up and the Super Bowl is a fairly large business proposition. A few dollars have been invested.

Since 1990 young people have been leading the way to use the Super Bowl to help combat hunger. The Souper Bowl of Caring was founded to inspire the many viewers of the sporting event to share with those who lack sufficient food. All of the donations from the Souper Bowl of Caring are invested locally. The youth in our church had been participating in the program for many years and each year those youth gather non perishable food and raise money for Church Response, a local group that works to provide food for hungry people. The goal of the Souper Bowl of Caring has been the same every year since it was begun. If each person who watches the Super Bowl would donate a single dollar, there would be sufficient funds to end hunger in the USA.

Last year the Souper Bowl of Caring raised $10,168,728 in cash and food items. $4,444,430 of that was cash donated. 4.7 million pounds of food was donated. That is a fair bit below the estimated 110,000,000 people who viewed the Super Bowl. Like many good ideas, the Souper Bowl of Caring has a ways to go before the vision is fulfilled. Still, the Souper Bowl of Caring is one of the nation’s top weekends of caring and sharing.

Colossal half time shows, record-setting costs for advertising and a renewed focus on the needs of our neighbors - the Super Bowl has spun off a lot of different things that attract our attention. There is at least one more thing worthy of mention in today’s journal post.

Avocado sales. Last year’s game set a record with $50 million in Super Bowl avocado sales. Guacamole for the Super Bowl is a big deal. The grocery store where I shop has a large avocado display right by the front door with a cooler filled with pre-made guacamole right next to it. Food sales in general really go up as people prepare for their Super Bowl parties. I’m not sure when the avocado became the featured item of Super Bowl parties. I doubt if it was a big deal back in 1967. I don’t think I even knew what an avocado was back then. I like them these days. The first time I can remember being aware of avocados at a sporting event was back in the late 1980’s when I was able to attend a baseball game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. They had guacamole as one of the toppings for the hot dogs there. I thought it was some kind of a California thing at the time and it made a big enough impression on me that it was one of the stories that I told when I reported on the game. These days I can’t even remember who the Giants were playing. I don’t remember who won. But I do remember the guacamole on the hot dogs.

So, friends, make sure that you are stocked up on groceries and ready for the big game. I don’t have any plans for a party. But if I get to the grocery store, I might bring home a couple of avocados. I'll also pick up some food to share with others.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!