Sports in general play a large part in our society therefore some sports are bound to be part of popular culture. I would like to offer that the sport of American football is one of those popular spots and in particular the NFL (National Football League). I would also like to state that the culture group or selection I am saying the NFL is popular with is the U.S. because I don’t believe it is really popular in any other sampling.
This sport draws a lot of attention in our society but I would also like to point out it really only does so only when it is active. Like the other dominant sports in the U.S., the NFL has an off-season when the sport reels back or steps out of the spot light. The NBA (National Basketball Association), the MLB (Major League Baseball), the NHL (National Hockey League), and other “big” sports do this and this on-and-off activity creates a sort of hype for when it comes back. It also gives the public a break to switch sports or forget about sports all together until that sport shoots back into heavy action and starts a season. During the off-season there is still activity in each sport, for instance in the NFL there still is training activity, the NFL Combine, the Draft, and news of players activity and trades. All of those things draw attention but really only do so with the mildly and overly obsessed.
Before the beginning of the season there is a period in which a couple of games are played that are called pre-season games. These have really no relevance to the regular season and are really practice matches for the teams as well as promoters for the return of the sport. They are generally looked upon as being “soft games” and test matches to try out plays and work out new players who haven’t played in any NFL games before. The new recruits that were acquired from trades and the draft during the off-season are usually played in these games to show their abilities and to see if they will be possible go-to players during the regular season.
When the regular season starts most games are on Sundays and usually one on Monday with a few on Thursdays and Saturdays. The few on Thursday and Saturday are usually between teams that are not doing so hot and in which case the NFL thinks less people will want to watch. Since the season schedule is set before the season starts sometimes that’s not the case, sometime teams are better than they were at the start. As the weekends go by teams build up a record of wins and losses and the ones with the best records usually make it into the post-season. This leads us into the way the league is divided.
The NFL has two subsections or Conferences, the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). Each of these is divided into 4 Divisions (East, West, North, and South) and each of those divisions has 4 teams in them. There are a total of 16 teams per conference and 32 teams in the NFL. Each AFC and NFC team plays the other teams in its own division twice (home and away) during the regular season, in addition to 10 other games assigned to their schedule by the NFL. Those assigned games are chosen by what a teams conference standings look like and by random assignment in which teams play other in conference teams or out of conference teams.
The post-season is made up of 19 games called the playoffs where there is a Wild Card round, the Divisional round, the Conference championships, and finally the Super Bowl. The teams that make it to the playoffs have the best record within their respective division and out of these 12 teams all have the chance to make it to the Super Bowl if they win their games. If a team looses a game they are out of the playoffs no questions asked. The Super Bowl pits a NFC team and AFC team against each other while the rest of the playoff games are split so that the teams that make it to the Super Bowl are the best of the two leagues. It is a simple refining system and could possibly be seen as a natural selection system, the weakest fall and the strongest go on.
The Super Bowl is a very popular activity in the U.S. and people who don’t even follow it are usually affected by it somehow even if it is just hearing about it or seeing thing related to the event. Most news outlets at least mention it and social media sources are usually ablaze in ads and promotions for it. There is usually a popular band that plays at halftime and there is even a draw to watch the ads during the halftime and throughout the game. Companies shell out tons of money to get their ads on the air during the Super Bowl and they are usually funny or creative in some way or another. People usually pick out a team they think will win and cheer for them or if anything they will cheer against the team their friends are cheering for just to be amusing. The event is largely a social gathering exercise where food is shoved down throats and drink is drank in excess. Chips such as Doritos and Tostitos are usually found at Super Bowl parties as well as drinks such as Pepsi, Coke, and Budweiser. It’s almost a holiday for a lot of sports fans and has become a day to sit around and yell at the TV and make jokes about how bad your friend’s favorite teams are. Popular TV shows reference the Super Bowl just like Halloween and Christmas, there is high stakes betting involved on the scores and victor of the game, and people are given leniency for missing work, school, or other events because they want to watch the game.