Watching Super Bowl 50 In Russia

Although Super Bowl 50’s viewing audience did not break the record set in 2015, ultimately reaching a US audience of 114.4 million, it was watched worldwide in more countries than ever.

In Russia, the growing popularity of the game had fans turning on to the kickoff at 2:30 AM. Michael J.P. Laurent, a contributor to AFI and a quarterback coach, gathered with a crowd in the city of Yaroslavl, located about 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow.

Laurent, who had organized a Master class for quarterbacks over Super Bowl 50 weekend which had included one female, joined a group who watched the game in a theater on a big screen. They arrived two and a half hours before kickoff, killing time beforehand by playing Madden football and watching “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler.

AFI - 2016 Super Bowl in Russia

Michael J.P. Laurent (3rd from left, bottom row) and football friends in Yaroslavl watching Super Bow 50

According to him the room was dominated by Carolina Panthers supporters although he and a couple of his friends were rooting for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. But team support aside, he says that this was a great opportunity to bring football fans closer together, helping cement the bond.

Although the game is still in its infancy according to him, those who participate are passionate about it. His team, the Yaroslavl Rebels was founded in 2012 but football was started in 1988 in Russia. Equipment was scarce for the first games they played back then. Players resorted to wearing all manner of helmet for example. Those who didn’t have a football helmet donned motorcycle helmets or hockey helmets.

Nevertheless, with a top division encompassing 18 teams and more climbing aboard, the game is growing in this enormous country. The Russian league kicks off its season in May.

Team Russia has qualified for the IFAF Europe Group B tournament this fall where they will face Great Britain in one group.

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!