Will You Be Watching Super Bowl LVIII?

Will You Be Watching Super Bowl LVIII?

Are you a football fan? Will you be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday?

If you are a fan, who do you hope will win? Why?

If you’re not, is there anything you enjoy about Super Bowl Sunday, whether it’s the Puppy Bowl, the halftime show, the commercials or even just the snacks?

In The Athletic, the sports service from The New York Times Company, Mike Jones reports:

At long last, Super Bowl week is here. After a grueling NFL journey that began during training camps in July, followed by an 18-week, 272-game marathon, then another 12 playoff games, it all comes down to this.

Kansas City Chiefs. San Francisco 49ers. Super Bowl LVIII.

The game is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET. Roughly four hours later, confetti will rain down on a familiar champion or a team that has spent 29 years trying to regain the Lombardi Trophy.

He outlines several stories to follow ahead of the big game, including:

Las Vegas as host city

The NFL world this week descends on Sin City, which welcomes it with open arms for its first time hosting the Super Bowl. The NFL has held a Pro Bowl and a draft in Las Vegas, but the Super Bowl is a much bigger deal. The three-year-old Allegiant Stadium should be an impressive setting for the biggest game of the year, and in Kansas City and San Francisco, the NFL has two fantastic teams to showcase.

Patrick Mahomes’ pursuit of greatness

Most NFL players spend their entire careers in pursuit of one Super Bowl appearance. And then there’s Patrick Mahomes, who is playing in his fourth Super Bowl and chasing his third Lombardi Trophy before his 29th birthday. At various points this season, it looked as if Mahomes and the Chiefs lacked the firepower to reach this stage. But they’re still standing.

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift

Love it or hate it, this story isn’t fizzling over the next six days.

This romance truly was appointed by the entertainment gods. Kelce is one of the most colorful personalities in the NFL and one of the most dominant tight ends in history. Swift is the biggest pop star of this generation. Half of NFL fans have great fatigue over the very mention of Swift and the 30 or so seconds she is shown cheering for her beau during Chiefs games. The other half find it delightful.

Unfinished business for 49ers

For the last five seasons, the 49ers have been among the league’s standard bearers, reaching the playoffs four times and winning two NFC championships. This represents their first trip back to the Super Bowl since the 2019 season, when San Francisco lost the Lombardi Trophy despite leading 20-10 midway through the fourth quarter. Kansas City went on a 21-0 run to steal the 31-20 victory.

With that bitter defeat as their driving force, the 49ers have spent the last four years trying to get back to this stage. They have dominated for most of the season, but questions about their ability to finish will persist until they prove their usually stingy defense can contain Mahomes and company and show their talented offense can keep its foot on the pedal.

Other Super Bowl stories you may be following?

Perhaps you’ve been stunned by the average price of a commercial:

For the second consecutive year, the average cost of a 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl was $7 million. Even as many businesses are being more disciplined with the money they have for marketing, and with spending on advertising slowing in recent years, the cost of a Super Bowl ad continues to go up.

Or noticing the rise of vintage sportswear (thanks to a certain Chiefs fan):

According to Google Trends, search interest in vintage N.F.L. items has nearly quadrupled in the last year, particularly in Missouri, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. The day after it was determined that Kansas City would play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, eBay searches for vintage 49ers T-shirts rose by more than 400 percent in the United States and Canada.

You might be wondering about the effect that legalized sports betting may have on this year’s game in the nation’s gambling capital:

The N.F.L. is pushing to popularize and benefit from sports betting while still guarding against the potential pitfalls that it long condemned. While the league donates money to promote responsible gambling, its broadcasts are peppered with advertisements for sports betting companies. The N.F.L. is part of a growing apparatus that encourages casual fans to regularly place wagers on games, while punishing league employees — most notably players — who might do the same.

Or looking forward to Usher Raymond’s halftime performance:

“It’s an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list,” Raymond said in a statement. “I can’t wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they’ve seen from me before. Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen. I’ll see you real soon.”

Students, read one or more of the articles above, and then tell us:

  • Are you planning to watch Super Bowl LVIII? If so, what are you most looking forward to — the game, the commercials, the parties, the halftime show or something else? If not, why not?

  • If you’re a football fan, what do you think of the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers? Who are you rooting for? Who do you think will win? What do you think will be the final score? Which players do you think will stand out and why?

  • Which Super Bowl story has been most compelling to you, whether it’s one of the ones mentioned above or an aspect you’ve been following on your own? Whatever it is, tell us why it has your attention.

  • What do you think about the choice of Usher for this season’s halftime performer? If you could see anyone perform at the Super Bowl, whom would you want to see, and why?

  • What predictions do you have about the game or anything else related to it, such as which way the coin toss will go, how long Reba McEntire will sing the national anthem or whether Swift will cry if the Chiefs lose? (Yes, those are all real bets spectators will be making ahead of this year’s game.)

  • Why do you think the Super Bowl is such a big deal in American culture? Is it more than just a game? What do you think it means culturally, and why?