You might not know the difference between a first down and a field goal, but there is plenty more to the Super Bowl than tackles and touchdowns.
As we count down to the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs clashing at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, here are some handy facts about the biggest event in US sport:
There's only one thing that has ever out-rated the Super Bowl in American viewing numbers: the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969. Eight of the remaining top 10 US TV rated shows are Super Bowls from the last decade and a half, with last year's thrilling win by the Chiefs over the Eagles drawing 115 million viewers nation-wide.
If you're expecting another run of politically charged statements on social issues from this year's run of Super Bowl commercials, it's likely you will be disappointed. The trend of advertisers taking a stand in recent years looks to be swinging back the other way towards referencing less controversial themes, as is often the case in the industry. Because really, at US$7 million per 30-second spot on host broadcaster CBS, the prospect of tapping into the Taylor Swift phenomenon might prove too hard for many companies to resist.
Eight-time Grammy award winner Usher will be performing at half time, although like all performers, he won't be getting paid a cent. Not that Usher will be complaining - the show is essentially a giant advertisement for him, used to tie into product placements, album releases and tour announcements. Usher announced a 24-city US tour last week, with ticketing outlets expecting a 50 percent increase in sales on the day of the game alone. Last year, Rihanna's new makeup brand Fenty Beauty saw an 833 percent increase in Google searches and 17 of her songs were in Spotify's top 40 after she performed the half-time show, making her the most streamed artist in the world.
How many people are involved?
Fifty-three players from each team get suited up in pads and helmets for the game, each with a specific role to play. Then there's the coaching staff, who number around a dozen each and are positioned on the sideline and up in the stands. There are seven officials on the field, as well as a television studio staff for official challenges, half a dozen ball boys wrangling up to 50 balls, two chain crews and countless other ground staff.
To say the Super Bowl is the biggest event in US sport is seriously selling it short. It's now a cultural phenomenon whether you like football or not, constantly being referenced in movies, on television and in songs as an embodiment of the American experience. Among its most famous central plot line appearances were in the original Ace Ventura movie and in The Simpsons episode 'Sunday, Cruddy Sunday'.
It wasn't always called the Super Bowl
The match came about due to there being two competing football competitions, the American Football League and the National Football League. The first AFL/NFL Championship game was held in 1967 after numerous attempts to make it work throughout the decade but it wasn't officially named the 'Super Bowl' until 1970 when the leagues merged. Each edition became denoted by Roman numerals two years later.
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will have about 70,000 fans in attendance, which is about average for a Super Bowl crowd. The largest attendance was at Cowboys Stadium in 2010, when 103,219 watched the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25. The smallest crowd was in Tampa in 2021, with the stadium capacity reduced to 24,000 due to pandemic restrictions. Ironically, the Buccaneers' 31-9 victory over the Chiefs that day is the only time a team has won a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
The captain doesn't lift the trophy
One tradition that always strikes international audiences as odd is the presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Instead of going to a player who has just sweated out a season's worth of effort, the silverware instead is handed to the team's owner in recognition of the money they've parted with in order to get to the moment of glory.