The Washington Post

Super Bowl: So much more than a game

Members of the grounds crew clean the field in Lucas Oil Stadium to prepare for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Super Bowl Sunday is the day of the biggest football game — and biggest television show — of the year. Last year, an estimated 111 million people watched the game.

Watching the Super Bowl on TV has become an American tradition, like watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Lots of kids (and even some adults) watching the big game may not be football fans. So here’s a quick guide for watching Super Bowl XLVI. (The National Football League, or NFL, uses Roman numerals to identify each year’s game; “XLVI” meant “46” in ancient Rome — which had a big stadium but no Jumbotrons.)

The game is between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. If you are wondering which team to root for, maybe this will help.

New England has a wide receiver, Wes Welker (No. 83), who is one of smallest players in the NFL. Welker is listed at 5 feet 9 inches, but he may be shorter. He is so quick that he led all the receivers in the NFL with 122 catches. So if you’re little, you may want to root for Welker and the Patriots.

If you have an older brother or sister who gets lots of attention, you may want to root for the Giants. Their quarterback, Eli Manning (No. 10), is the younger brother of superstar Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. For years, everyone has said Peyton is the best player in the family. But in Sunday’s game, Eli has a chance to do something Peyton has never done: win a second Super Bowl. (Manning led his Giants to a win in Super Bowl XLII — 42 — over the New England Patriots!)

Last year’s halftime show included glowing dancers. This year Madonna will sing. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

If you are a Washington Redskins fan, you should root for the Giants. The Redskins beat the Giants twice this season. So if New York wins, Washington fans can say, “Hey, we beat the Super Bowl champs.”

The Patriots have a good quarterback, too. Tom Brady (No. 12) has won three Super Bowls. The quarterbacks are the big stars of the game because they lead their teams and throw the ball.

Football is a team game. Be sure to watch the big guys on the defensive lines, such as Vince Wilfork (No. 75), the Patriots’ huge defensive tackle, and Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 90), the Giants’ cat-quick defensive end. They may make life miserable for Manning and Brady.

The commercials

There are lots of ads during the Super Bowl. Because so many people watch the Super Bowl, companies spend lots of money to make really great commercials that will make people want to buy their products. Sometimes the ads are more fun than the games. Some are funny, although not all of them are meant for young kids. Still, keep track of which is your favorite and see if other people agree with you.

The halftime show

Halftime is a big deal at the Super Bowl, too. This year, Madonna will headline the show. Some kids may not know much about her. Madonna is like Lady Gaga. She wears crazy costumes, sings songs that make people want to dance and has lots of extra dancers and musicians.

The game will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Fun fact: One wall of the stadium is made of glass: It’s 244 feet wide and 88 feet high.

Just because the Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year doesn’t mean it will be the best game. Recent games, such as last year’s 31-25 thriller between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, have been close and exciting. But 20 of the 45 Super Bowls have been won by 15 or more points.

Commercials during the big game can be funny. Last year’s Volkswagen ad featuring mini Darth Vader was. (Volkswagen of America/AP)

Any Super Bowl is fun. It’s a chance to stay up late, eat lots of chips and watch a football game, funny ads and a big halftime show.

But remember, Super Bowl or no Super Bowl, Monday’s a school day.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column every Thursday for KidsPost. He is the author 17 sports books for kids, including two football books, “Quarterback Season” and “Touchdown Trouble.”

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