In the United States, the annual Super Bowl American Football final took place on Sunday (21 January) with all the usual razzmatazz.
In the United States, the annual Super Bowl American Football final took place on Sunday (21 January) with all the usual razzmatazz. Although it is essentially sport, the Super Bowl is also a national institution - and big business as well. To anyone not acquainted with the rules of the game, American football appears to be a cross between soccer and rugby, with a dash of the circus and high finance as well. And the Super Bowl is the game of games, attracting record-breaking television audience ratings, enormous sums of money and the sort of prestige for the players normally reserved for lunar astronauts. This year, the thirteenth Super Bowl was between the title holders, the Dallas Cowboys from Texas and the 1974 and 1975 champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
SYNOPSIS: This was the site of the jamboree - the Orange Bowl in Florida. Seventy eight and a half thousand fans crammed int the arena - many having paid for tickets worth more than their weight in gold, with black-market seats fetching more than one thousand dollars.
As the Dallas Cowboys began an attacking movement, from left to right, many principles of the game became apparent. Firstly the extraordinary clothing of the players, including helmets and massive padding, but although the gear looks somewhat extra-terrestrial, the tactics of the game are very down-to-earth. Tackling is ruthless and sometimes brutal. One player last year was paralysed from the waist down by a harsh tackle.
The essence of the game is the touchdown - and Pittsburgh's quarterback Terry Bradshaw broke the record with four touchdown tosses. Unlike any other team sport, American football has teams of sixty-six players. Only eleven are allowed on the field at any one time, but teams of professionals, including coaches and computer experts, continually assess the game and change players.
In these manoeuvres, Pittsburghs' Lynn Swann and Dallas' Butch Johnson scored the vital touchdowns. More than one hundred million people followed the game on live television broadcasts throughout the United States, Central America and Japan. A single commercial during the show costs around forty thousand dollars. With that sort of audience and that sort of money at stake, the teams put on a good show. Pittsburgh's eventual win was a narrow victory, but made the side the dominant team of the 1970s.
By the final whistle, the Pittsburgh Steelers had clinched the game 35-31. Sport apart, the game meant massive financial deals for football managers, television promoters, advertisers and ticket-touts. For fans it was a day of days, highlighted by exciting touchdowns.