What I learned from my first Super Bowl

On the night of Sunday 12th January, the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 57th annual Super Bowl – the finale of the National Football League season. The Chiefs entered the match-up as favourites and emerged victorious, with a narrow 38-35 win. This year’s Super Bowl was my first time watching a live American football fixture, and the following points were what jumped out at me the most as a new spectator.

The kick-off time cannot be trusted: The twenty-minute window of delay between the announced start time of 11:30pm and the Eagles’ first play gave a perfect opportunity for a swift tutorial on the rules of the game.

Every detail matters, even before the game: Just after the emotional scenes during the American national anthem had ceased, it was brought to my attention that the last eight winners of the Super Bowl coin toss all went on to lose the championship – a staggering streak. This made the Chiefs’ success in the flip seem significant, however they went on to break the curse.

There are breaks at every possible moment: Each time the ball left the field; a change in possession occurred or a touchdown was scored, the cameras left the field and returned to the studio for a discussion of the play. This happened to an extent that the hosts were analysing the game for a greater duration than the match itself. Nevertheless, I was grateful for these intervals of explanation – as opposed to the relentless stream of commercials that fills these gaps in the American broadcast of the game.

The margin for error is miniscule: The quality on display during the Super Bowl made up for the frequent stoppages. Watching rapid, pinpoint passes reach receivers making evasive runs on a consistent basis was fascinating. In a way, these staggering athletic feats justified the breaks – as the players entered each play refreshed and ready to repeat. This high standard made errors such as “fumbles” huge turning points, with rare Eagles lapses were the cause of two of the Chiefs’ touchdowns.

The halftime show is a big deal: This was a point that I already knew going into the game, but the advertisement of the halftime show between each play indicated how central it was to the whole event. A Google search of “Super Bowl” encapsulates this well, as Rihanna’s performance and subsequent pregnancy announcement takes top spot – above the result of the game itself.

It’s in the hands of the quarterback: A more general observation of the sport itself was how pivotal the role of the quarterback is. My initial perception of the position was that the quarterback was the primary ball handler, looking to pass the ball at a given opportunity. The Eagles’ Jalen Hurts and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes both exceeded this expectation, pulling off mazy runs and gaining yards that led to the game’s defining moments – most significantly seen in the final plays, with Mahomes’ brilliance sealing the Chief’s success.

As the time approached 4:00am, the stoppages in the final quarter left me fighting sleep – yet the bursts of actions with the game tied 35-35 never failed to keep me focused. This Super Bowl has been described by many as a “classic”, and has cemented the reputation of MVP Mahomes as one of the NFL greats. While I have nothing to compare it to, I was drawn into the highly tactical nature of the sport and the grandness of the event – making the experience thoroughly enjoyable.


Image description: Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts, Quarterbacks of Super Bowl LVII

Image credit: All Pro Reels via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)