Nick Hickman

The decorations are up and the festivities are well in the works, for this Sunday, our Nation’s baby turns fifty.

Her roots can be traced back to the beautiful union between the AFL and the NFL in 1966. What soon came to be known as the Super Bowl was born out of a desire to crown a single champion between two unaffiliated leagues both competing for the spotlight.

Now, she owns an unofficial annual holiday at the beginning of every February. She is unmatched and untouchable. She is achievement personified, but is just as prosperous as she is cultural. In only fifty years time, she has infiltrated America’s bloodstream, pulsing and ripping through our veins as often as the air we breath.

Admit it, we’re hooked. We’re all addicted. Last year, a record 114.4 million people tuned in to watch Brady and the Patriots capture Super Bowl XLIX. There are approximately 111.1 million people living in Spain and the U.K. combined.

Aside from Super Bowl Sunday, only Thanksgiving can boast a higher statistical consumption of food.

The Super Bowl of two seasons ago between the Denver Broncos—who will compete again this year—and the Seattle Seahawks drew a record $119 million bet in Las Vegas casinos. It’s a sport played and adored by only one country in the world, but as American’s, we’re obsessed.

And part of the absurdity is that we’re all obsessed for different reasons. Sure, it’s likely that the large majority of viewers will watch for the sheer competition of the game, but many will be enticed by the halftime show and even Grandma and great-aunt Alice will tune in just to watch the commercials.

Usually we pay for clever tools to help us avoid commercials, but on Super Bowl Sunday, advertising brands will be competing nearly as hard as the athletes to capture your attention.

Though who can fault them? The rationale is simple. Say, for example, that just 5% of all viewers are motivated by an advertisement, spurring them to vote with their dollar. The resulting translation is an additional 5,720,000 customers to the responsible company.

Consequently, advertising companies will be willing to pay substantially for the privileged platform that is the Super Bowl. Thirty seconds during last year’s game sold for a record $4.5 million. According to Business Insider, that number has since grown 11% to a new average of $5 million per for this years game.

Money surrounds the Super Bowl in every corner and every aspect. Last year’s contest commanded more than $330 million in advertising revenue. This year, tens of thousands of passionate fans will pack Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, a venue that cost $1.3 billion to build.

Coldplay will headline this year’s Halftime Show after being selected as one of three finalists for last year’s game. Wall Street Journal reported that—along with Katy Perry and Rihanna—the three candidates were initially asked to pay the NFL for their performance in Super Bowl XLIX.

The Super Bowl is our baby and our addiction, and this year, both will turn fifty. It’s a small milestone in the scope of historical significance, though it’s a progression that shows no signs of slowing down.

Super Bowl Fifty will have its seats packed and its commercials rolling. It’ll have a remarkable halftime performance with brilliant effects and aesthetics, all this can be expected.

And too, you should expect the same next year, and the year after that. The NFL doesn’t need a headline like a fiftieth-anniversary to command our attention on Super Bowl Sunday.

In fact, it’s likely that they don’t even need to make any additional improvements or changes to the event at all. Barring nuclear annihilation, the NFL will be gifted next year with another energetic audience of hundreds of millions of fans.

As long as the money keeps coming, the fans will continue to be provided with a product that stimulates the deepest competitive trigger in all of us. And as long as the NFL’s product is in place, our cherished addiction will never cease.

 Cover Photo Credit: Kathy Drasky/Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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Nick is a 20 year old writer living in Colorado where he was born and raised. He currently attends The University of Colorado at Boulder where he's pursing a degree in business marketing and a minor in creative writing. You can follow him on twitter @nick_hickman.

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