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Why you should watch the Super Bowl

As British people go, I’m a huge American Football fan. I watch a whole hour of the sport per year (and no, I didn’t just Google how long a game was) plus the bits where they all hang out on the pitch and talk for a long, and the adverts, of course.

I’m also a Seahawks fan. I’d like to say it’s because when I visited Seattle a couple of summers back I fell in love with the bracing Washington air and was awestruck by the EMP and the first ever Starbuck’s, but the dark truth is that I’m a glory supporter. My passion for Seattle’s finest stems from the same event that gave me the bug for the sport as a whole: 2014’s Super Bowl aka Super Bowl XLVIII.

The Super Bowl is the height of Western civilisation, if you accept that Western civilisation isn’t really about freedom and tolerance but decadence and conspicuous consumption (of cheese-covered snacks). It’s telling that to my great shame, I nearly chose to support the Denver Broncos because their team came out led by a guy riding a huge white stallion named Thunder onto the pitch (or is it called a field?) whereas the Seahawks just had a stupid flag. They were clearly Winners, to borrow from Donald Trump’s phrasebook. Luckily, as a defensively-minded Chelsea fan I went for the latter of a match-up billed as an unstoppable force facing an immovable object, and wasn’t disappointed as the underdog Seahawks came out on top 43-8.

The only real one-off sporting event to rival the Super Bowl may be the World Cup Final (the Olympics are spread out so they don’t count), but that’s almost so ubiquitous it loses all character that is not specifically sporting. It is truly incredible, but it’s not, well, as weird as the Super Bowl. At the end of the day, if you took the match away, there would be very little left to enjoy at the World Cup. Europe’s closest equivalent, the Champion’s League Final, might offer marginally more to neutrals, because club teams tend to have more distinct characters than national teams. You can watch it and say “I hate Real Madrid because they are the club of the Spanish establishment” or “I like Dortmund because they are the underdogs and play exciting football”. This still requires you to know about football to enjoy it, though. The fact is, if you don’t really like watching sport, then you should watch the Super Bowl.

Black Hawks, Chinooks and Apache helicopters all flew over in time with the last note of the marching band in 2014. Even the man who did the coin toss wore a huge fur coat and looked like Phil Spector. The sight is pure spectacle to us in the old continent of Europe, with our quaint sports like cricket and rugby, our half-time entertainment of pies and sausages, and our tribes of violent young men who fight each other and throw flares. We watched from 5,000 miles away last year as the beautiful, airbrushed Katy Perry danced with giant shark-people and Lenny Kravitz rocked out blistering guitar solos before our disbelieving eyes in between two halves of huge, sculpted giants smashing into each other and pristine young women performing dance routines. We gaped as tens of millions of dollars’ worth of advertising was beamed into our brains, and we shivered slightly as 82,000 people stood in silence for the American national anthem, interspersed with shots of men in uniform watching almost 8,000 miles away in Afghanistan. We ate – consumed – nachos and some of us pretended not to be impressed. And none of us even knew the rules.

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