My name is Kamilla, I am 22 years old and is here in the United States as an exchange student from Denmark. One of my goals while being here in the US is to do as many American things as possible and to learn about American culture. In my anthropology class I have already learned that fieldwork is the best way of learning about another culture, so therefore, I was pretty excited when Brook asked me if I would join her and her family for Super bowl. Finally got an opportunity to study the “CRAZY” Americans, by doing some “fieldwork” and “participant observation” = watching Super Bowl together with them.
We arrived to the house (which was huge by the way) and were introduced to everybody. Brook’s mom, Laura, had been up since 6 am and cooked all day and there were a lot of different snacks: chili, spinach dip, cheese bread, mini pizzas, and chicken wings just to mention some few. I learned later that there was a purpose with all this food because as Laura said: “It’s Super bowl Saturday, there’s not gonna be any dinner – we’re snacking all day!”
Brook’s family, or at least her dad and little sister, were very devoted fans and I kind of have the impression that this is not an uncommon thing over here. They were dressed in the Steelers black and yellow team colors, the dog were a little cloak with the logo of the Steelers and even their pool table was, which I guess would have taken a fair amount of time, was covered in Steelers colors and logo. The thing I was most excited about though, had to have been the football shaped cake, a moist sand cake with sweet chocolate frosting – how can you not like that?!
Before the game, more family members showed up and the sofas were filled when the game eventually started. The star from Glee, Lea Michele, opened the show with “America the Beautiful”. In my opinion she did a better job than Cristina Aguilera, who apparently forgot and mixed some of the lines of the national hymn. Then the referee flipped a coin (which is not shown on European TV so that was kind of funny) and the game started.
Dean, Brook’s dad and my “key informant” (to use another anthropology term), taught me some of the basic rules of the game, because at first, I really did not get much of the game: it just looked like a big bunch of men wrestling for no particular reason at all. It was also a bit confusing with the two team colors, which somebody later told me, was confusing even for the Americans. But anyway, Dean let me in on the game and I understood that the purpose of it was to score points which you can do either by touchdowns or field goals. But the defense of the other team will do whatever it takes to make this as impossible as possible. I finally understood how the teams were moving up the yards and how the ball was passed to the other team if the ball was dropped.
In the half time I realized how gigantic this show really is, with big stars as Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas, the main actor from Glee, Usher and Slash giving performances. The money invested in this show must be outraging!
A good example of this would be the commercials. I have read that an average 30 seconds commercial which is shown on Super bowl primetime cost almost 15 million US dollars. To compare, if you were to send the same commercial in Denmark, as for example on TV2 (one of the Danish channels) in primetime, it would cost something near 60.000 kroner which is about 10.950 US dollars… which is petty cash compared to the American styled football. The amount and importance of the commercials is also very different from what I am used too. Personally, I would be pissed if a Danish soccer game was interrupted every two minutes for commercials. But over here the commercials are cherished and discussed several days after. I had to laugh when one of my classmates told me that he did not watch Super Bowl but recorded it anyway, just for the commercials. Now I kind of get him – they were pretty funny…
Overall, I really enjoyed the match and the whole experience (even though Green Bay Packers won 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers!). My brothers and cousins will be so mad at me for writing this, but back in DK, Super Bowl is almost only watched by nerdy boys who stay up the entire night from 1.30 until 4 am to watch the final match. So it was really fun to experience the whole thing in daylight and amongst real Americans, even though I did not know much of the rules of the game. Maybe I will join the boys back home in DK and chance that 😉
BONUSINFO: HOW SUPERBOWL BECAME KNOWN IN DENMARK
When 38 year old Morten Andersen from Struer, DK in the early afternoon hours of 31th January 1999 jogged into the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, he became, as the first Dane ever, an active participant in the biggest sport event in the United States: Superbowl – the championship in the professional American football league NFL.
Danish Andersen was at the field as a kicker for Atlanta Falcons, and up on the places for the media sat, for the first time, the commentator couple Jimmy Bøjgaard and Claus Elming, who in great haste was send to South Florida to cover Andersen’s performance in the 33th of Super Bowl.
The event became the starting signal to a significant growth of NFL-interest among thousands of Danes, which ever since, have become confidential with American styled football through direct NFL transmissions every Sunday at TV 2 Zulu with Bøjgaard and Elming as messengers.