October 5, 2023
It may surprise some people that there was football before the Super Bowl. I know this because back in those dark ages we watched games from colleges and two professional leagues on tiny black and white televisions. There was no 24/7/365 coverage of The League, no fantasy football, and hardly any hype. Players who bragged or “showboated” were not rewarded with television commercials and endorsement contracts. My inner curmudgeon could go off on a tangent at this point on why the old days were better. My favorite team, the true America’s team, the Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls. The only Super Bowls that mattered according to many folks back home. Permanent proof that good triumphs over evil. I try very hard to talk sense into my inner curmudgeon; sometimes he listens. With regard to the Super Bowl it is wonderful that the entire country, and much of the rest of the world, embraces what has become our national spectacle. Some watch for the game, others watch for the half-time show, and still others tune in to enjoy the annual debut of “super” commercials. After fifty years it is easy to think the National Football League has “always” dominated the sports landscape. We forget that professional football was once a niche sport far behind professional baseball, boxing, horse racing, and college football in popularity. Teams were once bore likely to need a bake sale to survive the season than they were to get a huge government handout to build a new stadium. This is something to keep in mind while you enjoy the 2016 edition. Will there be a 100th Super Bowl or will the public’s attention shifted to another “sport?” Perhaps something related to computer-based games? One of our local colleges made history recently by offering scholarships for talented “gamers.” The road to the NFL started with similar offers by college teams in the 1920s.