Cultural lessons learned from the Super Bowl


By Boswell Hutson

It’s rare that I ever write something outwardly patriotic, but my love for the Super Bowl is too deep, so here it goes, I guess.

As I’m writing this, the victor of the Super Bowl is unknown. However, by the time this is published, the champion will be known by millions and will surely have locked up some sort of luxury car brand’s sponsorship, bringing them unimaginable wealth for the foreseeable future.

Then, the grand spectacle of the game will fade from most of our minds until next year. The fleeting nature of the Super Bowl is probably the most healthy way extreme American culture can be experienced: in very short, stimulating bursts.

Last year for the Super Bowl, I was in London, England, watching my beloved Broncos crumble under the pressure of the massive event. The outcome of the game left me humbled, and was a lesson in humility as much as it was in anything else.

Despite this traumatic experience, which has surely scarred me for times to come, watching the Super Bowl in a different country was certainly a remarkable memory.

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Given the choice, I’d take the American pomp and circumstance surrounding the event over the late-night aura of a packed student pub. There are some things about American culture that can’t be replicated, and one just so happens to be the Super Bowl.

Probably most notably, due to Great Britain’s time difference and my team’s poor performance, I’d never drank that much beer at 3 a.m. before — which made going to my 9 a.m. lecture the next day fairly difficult (I still did it, though). But more striking than the increased consumption was the culture surrounding the game in England.

The Super Bowl wasn’t completely ignored — most people knew what it was or that it was happening that day — but it also wasn’t treated with the same respect it is in the good ol’ U.S. of A, where it might as well be a national holiday.

Though this is not surprising, in England that day, there were probably no increased sales of chips and dip at the grocery store, no constant speculation of the game in the country’s press and, most importantly, no American commercials to accompany the game itself. As a Doritos and Clydesdale enthusiast, the lack of widely anticipated commercials was heartbreaking.

Overall, the game was played too inconveniently late for the average English person to care, and the American football culture in London as a whole leaves something to be desired (but I guess the culture change is what you get when you study abroad).

As students, especially those involved in the humanities, we often look at the idea of “culture.” Often, it is brought up that the United States, due to its nature as a melting pot, possesses no real, uniquely American culture, but rather just bits and pieces of others.

But this idea is simply no longer true. This past weekend was the perfect representation of a part of American culture, available nowhere else around the globe. This event is one of many that makes us unique and sets us apart.

I’ll admit that moving to London made me become disenchanted with many aspects of American culture, and watching a game of football certainly didn’t change all of my new views (why can’t we have trains, man?), but it did allow me to see an aspect of my home that I’m not quite ready to part ways with.

This year, I vow to bask in my American nature. I’m just happy to be at my friend’s house, watching seventeen hours of pregame coverage, eating nachos and kicking back. I’ll enjoy that it won’t be 2 a.m. when the game finishes, or that class on Monday won’t be as hard for me to wake up and get to.

I’ll also enjoy that it’s a literal impossibility that the Broncos could lose (since they won’t be playing). I can’t forget that part.

Maybe America does have a culture that has been repeatedly corrupted by corporate gluttony, but for five hours one Sunday a year, it’s ok to bask in it. It’s okay to park in front of the TV, it’s okay to enjoy the commercials whose sole purpose is to manipulate us, and most importantly, it’s okay to avidly root against Tom Brady — someone who probably doesn’t deserve the hate.

There sure are a lot of times I wish I could be back in London, but on Super Bowl Sunday, I’m just glad to be home.

Boswell is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].