Why you should care
Because even if you don’t care about the Super Bowl, the hype around it is still fascinating.
Even if you don’t watch — or have any interest in — sports, there is still a good chance you will watch the Super Bowl today. Or at least be someplace where people are watching the game, even if you never glance up at the screen. But why? On this Sunday, we bring you stories that dissect why we care — or don’t actually care, as Eugene Robinson argues — about men tackling each other and tossing around a ball wrapped in pigskin. Turns out it might have more to do with the fancy ads and the money being exchanged behind the scenes (find out how you might be able to score some Benjamins for yourself from Vegas’ hottest handicapper). Why the Chinese care so much, though, is a totally different story (and we have that one for you, too).
For some people (last year’s Super Bowl XLVIII had an average of 111.5 million viewers), tuning into the Super Bowl is more about watching the over-the-top ads than the epic athletic contest taking place. Each 30-second spot will cost a reported $4.5 million, and with that much money on the line, advertisers put huge efforts into making sure their ads count. But consider this: New research shows that ads can communicate their main message in less than one second. Read more here.
Yes, yes, we know. Sports betting is illegal for anyone not living in Nevada. But let’s be real: People still fill out March Madness brackets at the office, and this Sunday especially there will be plenty of friendly wagers being placed across the country. And since Marco D’Angelo is what’s called a sports handicapper, he’s a pretty popular guy at this time of year. In his job, the 53-year-old makes a living not only placing his own bets, but also selling his picks to clients who pay sizable subscription fees for access to his predictions. And when it comes to picking winners, D’Angelo may be as good as they come. Read more here.
It was Sunday, March 9, 1986. The usually bustling streets of Beijing were deserted, and the only exceptions were the crowds of a few hundred that gathered to watch a game on a tiny screen in front of department stores, blocking entire roads. “It was impossible to imagine how excited people were,” says a former U.S. official who witnessed the peculiar event. As it turned out, 300 million Chinese — more than the population of the United States at the time, and more than three times the number of Americans who had watched the game live two months earlier — tuned in to watch the Chicago Bears bludgeon the New England Patriots 46-10. Almost 30 years later, there are still approximately 14 million fans in China, a number that is once again growing. Read more here.
It happens around the same time every year — this set of cultural milestones that loom so large, we count the days until their arrival. And then? OZY’s resident life commentator says we may care about the event when it happens, but our affection doesn’t last long. In fact, soon enough we forget that we ever cared about it at all. Hear why he thinks a bit of amnesia actually provides a great deal of social benefit, though. Read more here.