‘Un espectaculo’: What the Super Bowl means in Spain

By Kyle Pinnell

In Spain, Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t exist. Instead, due to time zones which forge an eight-hour difference between Glendale, Arizona, and Barcelona, Spain, it’s Super Bowl Monday, instead.

Super Bowl 57 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will kick off at 12:30 am Monday morning. With the game being played an ocean –– and half a continent –– away at State Farm Stadium, how is the event perceived among those who play the sport outside of America and may never witness an NFL game live in their life?

Es un espectaculo,” said Ferran Niubò, a senior player for the Badalona Dracs –– an American football team that competes in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano. “It’s the biggest game of the year, so it’s more about the show.”

You will likely find people who have heard of the Super Bowl no matter where you are in the world, and regardless of whether they follow American football or not. With an average of between 90-100 million viewers each year, the biggest game of the NFL season is one of the most televised annual sporting events in the world.

Like thousands of kids and adults in the United States, those who play American football internationally maintain vivid memories of their first time watching the Super Bowl.

“The first game of American football I played came on the day before the Super Bowl,” Niubò said. “I was very tired, and I remember watching the game (that morning) while sleeping. There were times when I was watching the game and then there were times when I fell asleep because the game was so late, and I was so tired.”

Dracs senior player Evans Nugmertey remembers the captivation he felt while watching Super Bowl 46, which saw Eli Manning lead the New York Giants on a game-winning drive to defeat the New England Patriots 21. Inspired by the game, Nugmertey remembers deciding to give American football a try soon after; now he plays professionally in Spain.

The Super Bowl also serves as an opportunity for players to invite friends who have never seen American football to learn about the game. Nugmertey, for example, hopes his friends and family will then be even more engaged when they come out to watch him play.

“A lot of times you invite a friend to come to an American football game, but when they’re in the stands, they don’t really know what is happening,” Nugmertey said. “They ask why something is a penalty or a foul. With the Super Bowl, we’re sitting together and I can explain why something is a flag for holding for example. It’s a great opportunity to introduce my friends to this sport.”

Despite the game’s popularity in the United States, and its global reach, Dracs players would love to see American football even more accessible in Europe. Families must pay a lot of money for a cable plan that shows NFL football or buy it in a package with the internet to watch most regular season games. There’s also another issue.

“The game isn’t really advertised (here in Spain),” Niubò said. “There isn’t much about (the Super Bowl) in the news or anything. I would like to be able to see the game covered more in Spanish with more previews and content.”

Niubò’s right. Walk around Badalona or nearby Barcelona and you won’t see many, if any, advertisements for Monday morning’s game. Still, despite the early kickoff time and lack of promotion, the Dracs’ players are excited for the game and will be watching. Game predictions are split, with Philadelphia-born quarterback Kevin Doyle pulling hard for the Eagles, of course, but the feeling ahead of the weekend is that all the players are excited to watch what they believe will be a high-quality game.

“It’s going to be a beautiful game to watch because both quarterbacks are special,” Nugmertey said. “But I think the Chiefs are going to win.”

The Dracs practice Monday night, but that won’t stop several players from getting together to stay up from late Sunday night into the early hours of Monday morning to watch the big game. Others may not watch because they work early the next day, but no matter their plans, every player will know the result come their first practice next week. That’s the power of the Super Bowl, American football’s grandest stage, one that extends deep into Spain and Europe itself.

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