French Culture Guide

French Culture in New York, with a Touch of Paris

An American Tradition

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The Super Bowl is famous all over the world. Well, at least by name, because most people worldwide don’t really know what it is, not being familiar with American football. However, you can’t entirely blame them because it’s not even completely clear to Americans themselves. If you ask an American, they will give you different answers without necessarily being wrong, because everyone has his own interest in the event. The best definition came from my friend Jessica, who said, “The Super Bowl is like Thanksgiving but with friends”. It’s funny to think about it that way, but she is, in fact, not far from the truth. This annual tradition allows you gather with your friends (instead of your family), around the television (instead of the table), but with the same excess of food and fun.


I didn’t know what to expect from the Super Bowl. I wanted to experience it with a completely American ambiance, so I decided to head to a sports bar. I started looking for one a few days before the game when I realized that I was pretty late. My request seemed to make people laugh. How could I even think of finding a bar days before the big game when almost all New Yorkers had already booked weeks, even months in advance.


Of course, I didn’t want to miss this huge event, so I changed plans and went to a house party with a bunch of friends who were happy to meet and share this moment together. Thus, Sunday seemed promising after all! You could feel the static energy of excitement everywhere; it was definitely tangible. This year was special for all New Yorkers because the Giants were one game away from entering the history books.


I arrived on time before the coin toss and, because it was my first time, everybody started to explain the game by commenting on every action. So for those of you also unfamiliar with the game of football, here are the rules, and I’ll try to do my best: roughly, you have strong guys tackling other strong guys. The quarterback throws the ball to anyone on his team who is open, in hopes they will be able to evade tackles long enough to get the ball to the “end zone” without dropping it. If they do, that’s a “touch down,” or as they say in France: “but!”


I know; I apologize. I hope no one’s offended by this explanation. I really tried to understand. I was focused during the whole game, but every time I seemed to have understood a rule, everything collapsed because of a new, seemingly inexplicable one. The halftime break should be given to the viewers not the players! The only way to follow is to understand the strategy, and to reach this step, I needed at least one whole NFL season behind me. Fortunately, this handicap wasn’t a big deal at all. Actually, the Super Bowl targets a larger audience, not just die-hard football fans. Understanding the game or even watching it is actually not mandatory to enjoy it.


The magic of this event is the menu à la carte you carte. You don’t have to love American football to enjoy the Super Bowl. In fact, the first time I heard about the Super Bowl was when I was studying for my bachelor’s in communication. I had a whole module that just spoke about how brands use the Super Bowl. It costs companies lots of money to advertise during the game, but they are assured a maximum amount of visibility to launch a product or confirm a presence in the market. Therefore, the most ingenious, memorable, and funny ads are created to advertise businesses during the game to an average of 111.35 million viewers. The commercial breaks last as long as the game. Between actions on the football field, you might actually have time to test-drive an advertised car or buy tickets for your next movie night online!


My friends actually had their own personal motivations. Jessica was excited to enjoy the halftime show with Madonna’s performance while she ate the bagel pizza snacks she prepared during the first part of the game. On the other hand, Marissa was keyed up at every commercial break to see the new Darth Vader Volkswagen ad. However, the team spirit behind the Giants brought us all together during the last part of the game. No matter what our primary motivations were, we were all for the Giants. Apparently (I don’t have enough expertise to comment), the experts who shared the evening with us were satisfied with the game. The 2012 Super Bowl matched their expectations. It was a great game with a final score that was close (21-17 with the Giants for the win) and a happy ending.


In case you missed it (because you live on another planet): the Giants won, and was even celebrated with a giant parade up Broadway in Lower Manhattan.


By Kenza Yahrfouri