The SportingJournal

Super Bowl no longer a gimmick for Aussies

Six years ago, I struggled to find a place showing the Super Bowl, and resigned to staying at home with my cousin to watch the game – which, from memory, was broadcast on SBS.

On Monday, I found myself in a completely packed establishment, shoulder to shoulder not with semi-interested onlookers, but diehard fans in jerseys and face paint.

The Super Bowl is big business, and it’s only getting bigger – in Australia, anyway.

Hundreds of thousands of Australians watched the game yesterday, and it was pretty easy to gauge the high level of interest via the plethora of Facebook and Twitter posts in my feed.

I also had a bunch of texts from people asking for my tip prior to the game – people that I had no idea even followed the sport.

Each year, it seems like more and more people flock to become fans of the NFL. The idea that with all the pads and helmets, it’s a “soft” game compared to our codes has been replaced by a feeling of genuine respect.

How has it become such a huge deal?

First, the biggest reason is likely because of the wonderful gift that is television and the internet.

Channel One shows plenty of games, while many others watch on ESPN/Foxtel. The ‘NFL GamePass’ system is a particularly brilliant initiative – subscribers pay a fee to stream the games, and a host of other content, via their phone/computer.

It’s much easier to access games, and information, which naturally, makes it easier for new fans to first stumble across the game then get involved.

There’s also a “coolness” factor when it comes to the NFL. American culture has long infiltrated Australia, and NFL is the glamour sport.

NFL and NBA jerseys and hats are everywhere now. People buy a hat because it looks cool, then decide to follow the team.

Then there’s the glitz and glam of the event. Our grand final codes feature Australian Idol singers and low level bands (or washed up former stars) playing on a small stage – this year the NFL had Beyonce, the biggest star in the world, who put on a breathtakingly spectacular show.

Almost by default, the NFL has managed to hook a legion of fans – whether they stay invested beyond the Super Bowl is yet to be seen, but is highly likely.

Can we start the calls for an NFL pre-season match, or at the very least, an exhibition game, to be played in Australia?

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