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Insights: Sports

America's Party After 35 years, the Super Bowl isn't just a football game but a national holiday
Dave Anderson
From the Print Edition:
Kevin Spacey, Jan/Feb 02

(continued from page 2)

After the 1970 merger realignment into the National and American conferences, Jim O'Brien's 32-yard field goal for the Colts provided a 16-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, the first time that Roman numerals were officially used to identify the game. Roman numerals I to IV were added later to the first four games. By then, "Super Bowl" had been accepted as the official name.

When the club owners met to decide what to call the first game, Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs owner, remembered how his daughter Sharon had bounced a small red-white-and-blue rubber ball over the roof of their Dallas home into their backyard. When he asked about it, she said, "It's a Super Ball. That's its name, Daddy, Super Ball." Hunt then suggested that the game be called the Super Bowl, a takeoff on the college bowl games. Although the term "Super Bowl" was not officially adopted right away, the Super Bowl, by any other name, has always been the Super Bowl.

At Super Bowl VI in New Orleans, the corporate invasion began. Huge groups of Ford and Chrysler executives and salesmen arrived. And the NFL's Friday night party kept getting more and more popular. So much so that the Super Bowl VII party on the Queen Mary was a disaster. Docked at a Long Beach, California, pier, the ocean liner wasn't anywhere big enough to handle 4,000 guests. Many ate sitting on the narrow floors between the cabins.

The next year in Houston, the NFL party was at the Astrodome, big enough to easily accommodate 15,000 fans as well as a few steer and horses.

This year, in a bow to the terrorist attacks, the NFL won't throw its usual Friday night party. Instead, CBS will air a two-hour special at the New Orleans Arena with 8,000 people in attendance. The week will also include the NFL Experience (a football-related theme park), the Super Bowl Golf Classic, various NFL-sanctioned events and dozens of corporate parties. Sales of NFL merchandise with the Super Bowl logo are expected to total $100 million; 50 companies have been authorized to produce products for at-home parties.

Because of you, you and you, there are more at-home Super Bowl Sunday parties than there are at-home New Year's Eve parties.

Think of the thousands and thousands of pizzas eaten that Sunday. Think of the estimated 14,500 tons of chips and dips that are purchased for those parties, including some 8 million pounds of guacamole. But the Super Bowl party doesn't appeal to everyone. One year when the Raiders lost the AFC championship game, Al Davis was asked if he were going to the Super Bowl anyway.

"No," he said. "I don't like parties."

Maybe the Raiders' major domo knew that the day after the Super Bowl, sales of antacids reportedly increases by 20 percent.


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