The Superbowl is one of the most significant sporting events in the USA sporting calendar. It’s known and even watched worldwide, and the Superbowl Halftime Show is one of the most exclusive and sought-after tickets in the industry. Every year, just before Spring, the two best football teams in America face off against each other in a match to end all matches. People all over the country gather in their living rooms, decked out in their team colors, ready to jump, scream, shout and even cry with their favorite players. Football-shaped snacks, betting on the odds, and huge parties are a standard part of Superbowl Sunday for most Americans, and some of the greatest NFL moments of all time have happened during this prestigious yearly event. But the Superbowl, like any big event, has grown and evolved over the many decades that it’s been around. Join us as we take a look at some Superbowl history and all the things that have changed over the years.
To understand the origins of the Superbowl, we have to take a look at the creation of the AFL or American Football League way back in 1960. The AFL was started by a group of frustrated businessmen, all of whom wanted to purchase their own football franchises but came up against the NFL, which was unwilling to expand. The AFL began making its way into the world of football, offering fans the chance to watch games played by an alternative league. This started a rivalry that would eventually shape pro football and make it into the most popular spectator sports in America, by the end of that decade. After six years of intense competition between the leagues, then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and AFL’s Lamar Hunt negotiated a merger between the two leagues, which would be officially completed in 1970. The Superbowl began as an “in the meantime” match between NFL and AFL pro footballers at the end of every season while the contract terms were being hammered out. Though initially both Hunt and Rozelle thought they could find a better title for the event, the name stuck.
The first Superbowl in history was played in 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, and though the anticipation was high, it was nothing compared to what goes along with the event today. That first Superbowl was played at the LA Coliseum and didn’t even sell out, something that would never occur in modern Superbowl days. Fans weren’t used to having to leave their home stadium and travel to a neutral site for the game, but that soon changed. The Superbowl really took off when the New York Jets destroyed the Baltimore Colts at the third annual event, which really gave the AFL some credibility with fans.
After the merger of the two leagues went through, the newly reformed NFL split into two conferences: the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference: the top team in each conference would compete in the Superbowl each year. By the time that 1974 rolled around, the fuss surrounding the Superbowl and the event itself had grown to such epic proportions that it was even said that if Jesus were alive, he’d be there for the kickoff. The NFC dominated the Superbowl through most of the 80s, but a new sensation was soon to take the limelight. In 1984, Ridley Scott directed a commercial for Apple computers that aired during the Superbowl: that commercial became one of the best known in American history. Since then, corporate America has made use of Superbowl airtime to release some of the best commercials ever created.
Viewership skyrocketed with the rise of cable, streaming, and other entertainment options. In a time where people rarely stop their daily lives to watch the same event, except in horrible times of tragedy, the Superbowl is doing better than ever. These days, not only can you watch the best footballers in the country duke it out for the number one spot, but you can also catch the 20 minute long Superbowl Halftime Show. This show went from humble beginnings where cheerleaders and mascots took to the field during the break to a reputation of cosmic proportions. Celebrities like Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, Eminem, and many more have graced that stage in some of the most exciting shows in music history. There have been pyrotechnics, costume changes, and even a jump off the roof of the stadium, in Lady Gaga’s case. The halftime show has become an event in its own right.
The Superbowl has gone from strength to strength over the years, and it looks like that will be the case for a long time to come. Though this year’s Superbowl is over, there’s always next year’s to look forward to. It’s never too early to start planning to host another Superbowl party!