- Written by Randal C. Hill Randal C. Hill
On Nov. 25, 2019, three months before Super Bowl LIV was to be played on Feb. 2, 2020, Fox TV announced that the game at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium was sold out of available advertising spots.
Companies that hadn’t already ponied up $5.5 million per 30-second message were out of luck.
The Super Bowl has become a spectacular yearly advertising and entertainment event … and there’s even a football game thrown in for good measure! Tickets for those who want to witness the event for themselves now cost an average of $2,500 to $3,500 per seat.
Over the years, numerous music icons have brought a true “wow” factor to the halftime performances and included Motown superstars (Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson), several iconic hitmakers (Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, Prince, Katy Perry, Beyonce), and some legendary UK entertainers (Phil Collins, U2, the Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney).
Today’s Super Bowl draws a viewing audience of about 100 million. It’s America’s biggest annual sporting competition (although the World Cup soccer games draw more viewers worldwide).
But, for many Americans, it’s more a boisterous afternoon of fun and friendship than a sports contest. More food — and presumably more drink — is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year except Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t always this way. The first such game wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. Played on Jan. 15, 1967, it was officially termed the AFL – NFL World Championship Game.
But NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted something a bit punchier, something easy to remember. The Pro Bowl, perhaps, or maybe even The Big One.
The name by which it later became known originated with Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. He had seen his young daughter play with a bouncing toy called a Super Ball, and Hunt was inspired to propose the name Super Bowl for the contest.
Rozelle declared the term too informal, but it didn’t take long for Hunt’s recommendation to take hold with the public.
That first game was far from being a sellout. By kickoff time, about one-third of the seats at the 94,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum remained unsold, as many people grumbled that the $12 ticket price (about $92 in today’s money) was excessive and refused to cough up the required funds
And just how impressive was that first halftime show compared to the budget-busting, jaw-dropping extravaganzas we have come to expect now?
Judge for yourself. Two men, who each wore hydrogen-peroxide-propelled jetpacks (technically termed “rocket belts”), flew around the field — barely off the ground — to show what future travel could look like someday.
Two college marching bands paraded. Trumpeter Al Hirt performed. Ten thousand balloons went airborne. So did 300 pigeons, one of which left a deposit on the typewriter of young sportscaster Brent Musburger.
In that initial contest, by the way, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers walloped the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs 35-10, and Green Bay quarterback legend Bart Starr was named MVP.
Although Randal C. Hill’s heart lives in the past, the rest of him resides in Bandon, Ore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.