What You Don't Know About the Super Bowl

Posted: January 26, 2018 | Author: David Berri | Read Time: 6 minutes

Football in foreground with players sitting in backgroundCoverage of the Super Bowl in the United States is extensive and in some places, seemingly non-stop. Despite all this attention, though, there are a few things about the game that most people may not know.
For example, Americans may think of the Super Bowl as the biggest sporting event of the year. But around the world, the Super Bowl is nowhere near the biggest sporting events people watch. Amanda Jennings – of The Ladies League – noted that the Super Bowl in 2014 had a world-wide audience of 160 million. Jennings also noted in October of 2014, that Real Madrid and Barcelona -- of the Spanish Primera Division -- played a (regular season) game. The game was the 229th edition of el Clasico and featured such players as Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid) and Neymar (for Barcelona). And how many people watched? The global audience was 400 million.
So the Super Bowl is big. But not nearly as big as some regular season soccer matches in the world.
Still, the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the United States. And it will be watched by millions of sports fans. What many men may not know is that millions of those fans are women. Molly Cosby – of the Ladies League – noted that research shows that 45% of NFL fans are women. Cosby is one of these women and she also observes something that many women have noted when they admit to men they are sports fans. Quite often the men react by giving the women a quiz. Specifically, they start asking the women questions to see if they are “true fans”. Obviously (hopefully this obvious) this is insulting. And I would add, most male sports fans I know are probably not capable of passing these quizzes.
So if you are at a Super Bowl party and woman says she is a fan… maybe you should just let her be a fan.
Many of these fans – again both men and women – will actually be in Minneapolis at the game. Does this have a significant economic impact on Minneapolis? According to Jon Banister of Bisnow, Minneapolis recently spent $500 million to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. And now it is hosting a Super Bowl in this stadium that a study claims will generate $404 million in economic growth. Victor Matheson – an economist at Holy Cross and perhaps the foremost expert on such studies – says he is skeptical of any study that argues the Super Bowl generates a benefit beyond $130 million.
Whether the number is $130 million or $404 million, though, it is important to note the size of the Minneapolis economy. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Gross Domestic Product (i.e. aggregate income or output in the area) of Minneapolis is $246.689 billion. So even if it is $404 million (and again, Professor Matheson would be skeptical), this economic impact is less than 0.2% of the overall size of the local economy. So if you live in Minneapolis, you should not be surprised that you won’t be able to see any real economic growth from this event.
What about the game? Right now we all want to know who is going to win. Can we really know right now?
There have been 51 Super Bowls. Of these, the team with the best point differential (points for minus points against) has won 31 times. Pro-Football-Reference.com has an even better team measure called the Simple Rating System (SRS). According to this measure, the “best” team has won the Super Bowl 29 times. Of course, that means the “best” team lost the Super Bowl 22 times.
In this game, the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots had the same point differential in the regular season. But SRS says the Eagles are better. Then again, the Eagles are playing Nick Foles, their back-up quarterback from the regular season. And the Patriots have Tom Brady and he never, ever, loses. Except, of course, when he does.
Brady and the Patriots have won five Super Bowls. Except for one injured season, Brady has led the Patriots in each season since 2001. So that means he has not won the Super Bowl in ten years. Yes, Brady has lost before!
And as I noted last year, we can imagine there is an alternative universe where the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl 49 and the Atlanta Falcons won last year. In both cases, one can argue that the Seahawks and Falcons could have won had their offensive coordinators simply called for a running play at the end of the game instead of a pass play. Had that happened, Brady would not have won a Super Bowl since 2005 and we would be wondering why Brady can’t ever win the big game anymore.
So, who is going to win? Last year, I wrote another article detailing all the factors one might think matters (regular season wins, payroll, best defense, etc…) and I could not find anything that seemed to predict who would win. Well, except one thing. The best looking quarterback (and this is a silly theory!) seems to often win (although that didn’t happen last year!).
Therefore, despite all you will hear from all the “experts”, we really don’t know who is going to win. Football is a very unpredictable game. The best can play poorly. The worst can surprise us.
What you should know, though, is that although the players will be trying their best, the major stars do not get paid much to play this game. Player salaries are for the regular season. There is a bonus for playing this game and players on both teams get a bonus. In 2017, the winners got a larger bonus of $54,000. For most of us and the non-stars on the team, this is a substantial sum of money. For the stars – like Tom Brady – the bonus is immensely small compared to their regular season salary. So, for players like Brady, they are playing mostly for the love of the game.
Brady and other stars are like the fans. They really like the game.
So, enjoy the game. No, the game isn’t the biggest thing in the world and it won’t make the people of Minnesota much richer. We also don’t know – despite all we hear – who is going to win until they play the game. We should all just sit back and enjoy the show.
But let me repeat one last point before that show begins. If you are a guy, stop giving the women who love the game quizzes. Really, no one enjoys quizzes. And I would know, I give people quizzes for a living!

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