Super Bowl 2016: Is Europe confused about the Superbowl?

The Super Bowl remains one of the biggest sporting events in the world and will be broadcast around 185 countries in 30 different languages. A staggering 113 million people watched the event last year and this time around it will only be bigger.

But why should Europe be interested in America’s showpiece? Traditionally Europeans have stayed up late and watched the game live, not really understanding what was really going on. People like the idea of being involved in something global and it gives us a chance to eat hot dogs, cheesy nachos and drink Budweiser.

We also love the notion of the half-time show. The build up to the Super Bowl is dominated by what antics will be involved at half time, sometimes the drama of half time even overtakes the game itself as the showpiece event. Coldplay will hopefully go down a big hit this year and will somehow make Britain feel involved and represented.

Us Europeans are an easy bunch. Some people are desperate to stay up, just for the half-time ads. Despite lavish spending in European football, the extravagance of $4 million for a 30-second advertisement spot is what makes the American spectacle quite so unique.

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The sport itself is difficult for Europe to understand and sometimes we wonder why across the pond, Americans spend hours watching the sport. Football, Tennis and Rugby are an ongoing game with only a handful of player names to remember, whereas we struggle to get our head around 20 seconds worth of action in five minutes. Not to mention the teams having a whole defensive and offensive team!

Often the Super Bowl is seen as a glittery over hype in Europe, the cheerleaders, the fire. We are used to seeing rugby players getting clattered in the mud, not doing a ‘team celebration.’ The laws of the game can sometimes leave us scratching our heads too. Football? But you catch it?

Having said this there is no doubt though the NFL has gradually increased in popularity across Europe, especially in the UK. Wembley Stadium in London has hosted annual games since 2007 which has been prominent in the rise of American Football. Tottenham Hotspur also agreed to host two games per year in their new stadium, which is set to be built in 2018.

There are American football franchises popping up all over Europe as countries begin to hold their own leagues. Teams like the Moscow Patriots, Munich Cowboys and Vienna Vikings, share names as if they have become part of the NFL franchises.

Unfortunately for Europeans who don’t know a lot about the game, it will be hard to make an emotional connection to the teams this year. Unless you know the players or city, it is a case of picking which uniform you like the most, Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers. In terms of the game, what we will be hoping to see is the equivalent of a highlights reel on YouTube. Incredible skill or a bone crunching tackle. Naive I know, but to us it won’t matter who might win!

So how popular will it be this year? Unfortunately, for mainland Europe, the game will start between 23.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. Best to get the 8th of February booked off work! But despite the unfortunate unsociable hours, it will still be highly viewed. The increase in the popularity of the NFL and the idea of watching such a huge sporting event will not be something we want to miss out on.

Edward Wade
A journalism sports graduate from Sheffield University, Edward resides in London. He loves American football and the NFL but writes mainly about soccer. His stories can be found in Thinkfootball and Backpage Football.
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