The Super Bowl: Cultural Unity or Crass Commercialism?

First, thanks for the Comments today! As you read my perspective here, also take a look at our growing list of comments on the Super Bowl (at right) and, before you leave — click to leave your own Comment.

Here is my perspective and the questions I’m raising today …

NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT, the Super Bowl is a cultural event. Just the sheer numbers indicate that — customarily over half of Americans watch it, and over a billion tune in worldwide.
    Why? One reason has everything to do with what we talk about on It’s an event that creates a sense of “we” — a sense of belonging to the same national community.
    National sports can do that. In Brazil, for example, soccer plays the same role, creating — if for a moment — a shared and almost sacred outlook that closes social gaps.
    Of course, there’s the crass commercialism, too. For some, this is just another venue for capturing audience share. Indeed, Super Bowl ads pay off, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The stock price of a publicly traded company that advertised during the big game tends to beat the stock market averages.
    There’s even an odd stock market indicator based on the Super Bowl. If a team from the old NFL wins, the stock market rises. If a team from the AFL wins, the stock market falls. We’ll see if Sunday’s victory follows suit.
    Did you watch the Super Bowl?
    What did it mean to you?
    A sense of unity with other Americans?
    Excuse for a party?
    Or nothing at all?

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