Words by Eric Bilach
Illustration by Katie Herchenroeder
With Super Bowl LIII in the rear-view mirror, it is safe to say that this year’s championship game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was certainly not the offensively sound, high-octane affair that most viewers had both anticipated and hoped for.
In fact, the final score of 13-3 was the lowest scoring combined total – 16 points – for two teams in any Super Bowl in history. Further, New England posted the game’s lone touchdown score – another Super Bowl record – 53 minutes deep into regulation. This result came as a huge shock to viewers, as both teams proved to be consistent offensive juggernauts throughout the entire 2018-2019 season – Rams as the third best offense in the league, and the Patriots the fourth.
Regardless, in what many viewers have dubbed to be the most “boring” and “uneventful” Super Bowl in recent memory, the 53rd annual NFL championship game managed to boast some impressive numbers both on the field and off.
Based on the high-scoring capabilities of both the Patriots and the Rams, various bookmakers around the country set the over-under, a number predicted as the combined score of the two teams, at around 56 points – the second highest for any Super Bowl. With the actual combined score being only 16 points, any bettor who “took the over” for this year’s game may have arguably made the worst possible wager in Super Bowl history.
This year marks the first Super Bowl in which sports betting has become legalized in states by the Supreme Court. With this change in mind, perhaps annual bettors will be less likely to take such a gamble in the Big Game for years to come, following the outcome of the clash between the Patriots and the Rams.
With the win, the New England Patriots tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins by a team with six apiece.
All of New England’s championship victories have occurred within the span of the past seventeen years, which have featured quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick at the helm. Of these past Super Bowls, the Patriots have appeared in the Big Game an unprecedented nine times, with their eleven Super Bowl appearances as a franchise also standing as an NFL record.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that Brady became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at forty-one years of age, and Belichick the oldest head coach at sixty-six years of age. On the opposite side of the field, Sean McVay of the Rams became the youngest head coach to ever appear in a Super Bowl at only thirty-three.
On top of all these statistics, Super Bowl LIII managed to post some intriguing figures off the field as well. According to a CNBC report, host television network CBS charged $5.25 million to run a mere thirty-second commercial – another Super Bowl record. Bearing this price in mind, Anheuser-Busch, the official beer sponsor of the NFL, purchased five minutes and forty five seconds worth of airtime during the Super Bowl. CNBC reports that such an acquisition may have cost the Budweiser parent company “nearly $34 million in total.” In terms of viewership, Nielsen data concludes that Super Bowl LIII only drew 98.2 million viewers – a five-percent drop in comparison to last year’s game, and the lowest television audience for a Super Bowl since 2008.
On the topic of the low viewership turnout for the 2019 installment of the most anticipated sporting event of the year, Omar Elsayed, a City College student and avid football fan, weighed in his opinion: “I just couldn’t bring myself to watching [Super Bowl LIII]. It feels like the same thing every year and I’m sure most fans, like myself, have gotten bored with watching the Patriots in the Super Bowl year after year. It becomes redundant after a while.”
One could argue that Omar’s assessment of this year’s Super Bowl is a sentiment shared by other City College students who ritually tune in with the rest of the nation to watch the Big Game every February. It appears that the Super Bowl has become a heavily commercialized, heavily predictable cash cow in recent years, instead of the intense, electrifying gridiron battle that fans, and casual viewers alike, expect to see.
A change of the guard seems to be in desperate need in order to shift the dwindling viewership numbers; however, with Tom Brady asserting that there is a “zero” percent chance of him retiring after Super Bowl LIII, that change may be further away than some may hope.
Considering the lack of a collegiate football team presence at City College, students may have a difficult time finding a suitable alternative to the Super Bowl—an alternative that promises to offer the thrill, variation, and legitimate interest that the annual Big Game simply failed to produce.