Superbowl 2016: touchdown or turnoff?

Superbowl 2016: Touchdown or turnoff?

James Sproston
15th February 2016
The bookies took bets on last year's infamous 'Left Shark' showing face | Image: Huntley Paton, Flickr

Hey sports fans: Do you like playing ball? Did you watch Coldplay, or did you call it a day? Did you Beyon-SAY BruNO (Mars) to the Super Bowl?  The Courier goes bowls-deep into the analytical end-zone to find out if you should watch it a whole year from now.

Where art thou left shark?

They say you will never see a broke bookie. Now I know why.

The Super Bowl was yet another opportunity for a bunch of British students to blow their load on a sport that they don’t know nearly know enough about.

“Panthers to win” they said. “It’s nailed on” they said. How wrong they were. The Denver Broncos delivered a defensive masterclass that stunned the favourites, allowing the Broncos to win their first Super Bowl since the 90s.

For the neutral it was by no means a spectacular encounter. Even Tony Pulis would’ve been bored. Nevertheless the Broncos should be proud of their tactical display, learning the painful lessons from their loss in 2014 to Seattle Seahawks. Anyone who thought that Broncos would be pushed over again so easily were far too naïve.

Those who backed Panthers wouldn’t have been heartened by the fact that the biggest deficit ever overturned in a Super Bowl is 10 points (on two occasions). Therefore having found themselves 10 points down after the first quarter, Panthers fans would’ve been hoping for a record-equalling effort. It was not to be.

Once again in a Super Bowl, the star man didn’t deliver. 2015 MVP Cam Newton was meant to be the star of the show, however both Jackson and Anderson’s touchdowns came from Newton errors. Maybe it was karma striking back for the time he stole a laptop and threw it out of a window. Or maybe he just can’t handle the pressure. We can only speculate.

In contrast Peyton Manning, who had such a nightmare back in Super Bowl XLVIII, had a decent game, his combination play with wide receiver Sanders contrasted to the fortune of Newton.

More so than at any other point this season the Panthers missed star receiver Kelvin Benjamin, as Newton often struggled to pick out an outlet in their offensive plays. In the 2014 season Benjamin caught eight throws of over 20 yards, with no other Panthers player recording more than two. Admittedly Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn Jr. have been impressive this season in the wide receiver’s absence, but Olsen can’t match Benjamin’s pace and Ginn avoids tackles like Donald Trump avoids El Chapo.

Aside from the actual match, there were a fair amount of other things you could have bet on. For those that don’t know, these included things like the length of the National Anthem, the type of tie Jeff Reinebold was wearing and the colour of the liquid that would be poured on the winning coach.

However I think my favourite has to be ‘Will “Left Shark” Make an appearance on stage during the Super Bowl Halftime Show?’ Left shark didn’t appear. That would require a level of humour that the NFL aren’t capable of. But I do wonder how many people were tempted to put their life savings on YES at a tasty 15/1.

Needless to say if you don’t know anything about NFL don’t bet on it. Even if you do you’re probably going to lose money. So if you are going to bet on something, bet on Left Shark. I’d happily lose plenty of money routing for that guy.

James Sproston

The Panthers have emptied my pockets

I’ve blown more of my student loan this year than I’d like to admit betting against the Carolina Panthers. So for Super Bowl Sunday I finally let it go – I became a diehard Panther fan.

For the last couple of years, both college football and the NFL have taken over my Saturday and Sunday nights. But the Super Bowl is on another level. No event in the British sporting calendar involves anywhere near the sort of hype and expectation involved in the week leading up to the early February event. Over here, there is no one-off game that manages to attract so much international attention. The only relatively comparable match is the Champions league final, and it becomes an afterthought for the public when an English side isn’t appearing.

The NFL’s premier showcase offers something different for British fans. We typically don’t have a horse in the race. Yet, each year there’s a massive response to the big game, so much so that the BBC aired it live for the last few years. But Super Bowl 50 appeared to draw much criticism and has been billed as a letdown by many, including some of the writers here at The Courier. We probably shouldn’t comment on the standard of this year’s half time show, because, well… Coldplay. I, however, am of a different opinion to many. So here are a couple of things I took from the big game:

Firstly, the game may not have been the high scoring shootout we all crave in a Super Bowl, but we got to see two true superstars battle it out. NFL MVP ‘SuperCam’ Newton has pioneered the unrelenting scoring celebration craze that is the ‘dab’, which we didn’t get to witness in the midst of the quarterback being obliterated by the Denver Broncos’ defense.

On the other side of the field, we watched what was probably the last ride of ‘The Sheriff’ Peyton Manning, one of the all time greats of the sport. Even with his shameless promotions of Budweiser and Papa John’s Pizza after the game, the No 1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft got the fairytale ending few ever achieve at the top level of their respective sports.

Secondly, we got to see one of the most improbable results in recent memory. With many backing the Panthers to win by a landslide, including myself. Denver made up for their monumental collapse in the game against Seattle 2 years ago. The Panther’s offense was the most prolific in the league all year, and no one predicted it would be slowed down at any point. Which is why I decided to go all in on Carolina.

Much to my dismay, the first quarter ended, and it seemed like the script was already written. Some hope emerged when they made it 10-7 in the second, but from there on in, things went downhill. So thanks Carolina, thanks for a season of defying the odds, all the way until the end, in victory and defeat.

The Panthers “keep pounding” at my Betfair account.

Gabe Pennington

Coldplay can’t beat my nice warm bed

Ok, so I’ll admit that I’ve never actually watched a full Super Bowl match. I tried once, but I got bored and went to bed. And this year was no different – I was quite happy to let Super Bowl 50 pass me by, unwatched and unloved.

Maybe if I stuck with it I’d enjoy it. And I wouldn’t be alone – a growing number of British fans stay up to watch the Super Bowl every year, and Wembley has hosted several NFL games since 2007.

But I just don’t get it. I mean, I literally don’t get it – American Football confuses me, but I don’t understand the hype around it either.

In America it’s big news, it has been for 50 years and no doubt will be for another 50. But NFL fans have been watching these teams for the entire season, and know all the characters and the ups and downs and all the significance that a Super Bowl win would hold. I find it hard to get excited about a final when I don’t have a clue how either team got there. This may sound soppy, but for me sport isn’t just a few hours of playing, its a journey, and nobody (except for the odd trainspotter) turns up at the station just to watch somebody else’s train pull in.

To be fair, in America Super Bowl Sunday is as much about the parties as the match itself. Maybe if I had people to watch it with I’d be more inclined to give it a go, but sadly I’m lacking in the friends department.

Watching two teams I don’t give a shit about playing a game I don’t really understand, on my own in the middle of the night... not for me, sorry.

I guess the point of Super Bowl isn’t so much the sport as all the other stuff that goes on – in America this is the biggest television event of the year, and Super Bowl 50 was the most watched programme of all time in America (our most watched programme is the 1966 World Cup final – even Eastenders can’t beat sport in the ratings battle). And I missed it all – I woke up Monday morning to hear about Beyoncé and the Broncos and Budweiser.

In fact, the fact that it goes on for so long makes me want to watch it even less. To do it properly I’d have to commit maybe five or six hours, and watch Coldplay. That’s quite a big ask.

Maybe I’m just being narrow-minded and miserable. I should probably at least watch a full match before just assuming that I wouldn’t like it. After all, one of the things I love most about the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games is getting to watch sports I know nothing about, but then at least there I can cheer on my country, so I’ve got some kind of emotional investment.

Should I have watched Super Bowl 50? We’ll never know, but I should probably give it a go before I knock it. Oh well, it’s only a year till the next one.

Mark Sleightholm

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