Super Bowl Sunday: The American Perspective

If you’re looking for insight into American culture, the traditional American Super Bowl party is a good place to start. Each year on the first Sunday in February, Americans gather with friends and family around the television to eat greasy food, drink cheap beer, and debate passionately about the football game, the ad campaigns, and the half time extravaganza that parade across the TV screen.

This Sunday, at the crowded Super Bowl viewing party in West Dorms’ Sobo Lounge, I asked American students what they feel the Super Bowl is all about.

Some students watch the Super Bowl because they genuinely enjoy football. First-year MBA student Rafael Salamanca says, “I like the intensity of the game and how, in one play, anything can happen.”  Classmate Derek Ford says, “Favorite part of the game? Not any of the circus stuff. Just the game. I don’t care about the ads or the half time show.”

A majority of students, however, seemed to care less about the game itself than the social aspects of the Super Bowl. MA student Leah Funk says her favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is: “The parties. Getting together and hanging out with friends.”

As with any party, food is an important part of American Super Bowl traditions. Many students waxed eloquent about their Super Bowl food memories. Friend of Thunderbird, Ryan Mann, best described the typical Super Bowl fare: “Lots of chips and dips. Things that are not so healthy for you are kind of a requirement. And beer, of course.”

The Super Bowl is such an important part of American culture that some Americans will go to great lengths to watch it, even while abroad. MBA student Darren Watkins recalls when he served in the Peace Corps in Senegal: “We all got together in the regional capital and projected it on the wall. The game streamed better in Kolda, Senegal than in Glendale, Arizona,” he complained, as once again in the Sobo Lounge, the live streaming image froze mid-play due to technical difficulties.

Second-year MBA student William Hanson, decked out in his Seattle Seahawks jersey, also has fond memories of watching the Super Bowl abroad. “I was in Madrid last time the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, [in Febrary 2014]. Game started at 4:30am and I had class at 7:30.” He says the bar was the only place open and was filled with Americans.

First-year MBA student, Sylvia Imbrock watched the Seahawks win last year a little closer to the action: “I watched it in Seattle and I was in the heart of the rowdiest area of the city. Every time there was a score, there would be this ROAR. I’ve never heard anything like it.”

But, as MBA colleague Shivan Perera points out, “Even if you don’t follow football, it brings a lot of people together. It’s very particular to America. Everyone pauses for the Superbowl.”

“And no one studies after the Superbowl,” he adds, as a handle of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey starts to make its way around the party.

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