One of the most popular ‘unofficial holidays’ in America takes place this weekend. Here in the football world in which you play with your hands, rather than your feet, it is the Sunday of them all – Super Bowl Sunday.
Super Bowl XLIX is gearing up to be one of the most watched events of the year. Just to give you an indication of the popularity, last year’s Super Bowl drew in 111.5 million viewers. According to this Mashable article, that equates to about 7 out of 10 American households watching the big game – impressive!
Most will be watching in anticipation of who will be crowned Super Bowl Champs of 2015. However, the majority of the epic battle between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will be lost on the many others who will be enjoying the taco dip and wings, taking a break only to watch the commercials and half-time show (myself included!).
Baseball has always been considered ‘America’s pastime’. This Atlantic article from 2013 claims it still is, although football is arguably just as popular (if not more so) depending on who you ask (see this graph from a national poll). With American Football leagues popping up in different countries all over the world it’s easy to see why American football has become so popular.
For instance, in Denmark the Dansk Amerikansk Fodbold Forbund (Danish American Football Federation) is an organization started in 1989 with currently around 4,000 members in 80 clubs across the country. Each Year the DAFF holds a championship game aptly titled the Mermaid Bowl, the “Danish version of the Super Bowl.” In 2014, the Copenhagen Towers defeated the Aarhus Tigers in this epic Nordic battle of the pigskin.
The DAFF’s popularity has grown tremendously over the past decade, perhaps in part due to Morten Andersen, a former NFL kicker, leading scorer, and All-American at Michigan State University.
It is understandable why Andersen is considered a hometown hero. Born in Copenhagen and raised in the west Jutland town of Struer, at 17 he traveled to Indianapolis as an exchange student with the organization Youth for Understanding. While there he attended high school and joined the football team. He was so impressive after one season as a kicker that he was given a scholarship to Michigan State University (MSU), where he would go on to be named All-American in 1981. He was drafted as a 4th round pick for the New Orleans Saints in 1982 and played for six NFL teams throughout his career, and retired in 2008. In 2009 he was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame, and in 2011 he was inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame.
Although American football is not the national sport of Denmark, perhaps a few Danes will tune in to the Super Bowl this Sunday along with the hundreds of millions of Americans. Or perhaps, like me, they’ll be running to the television during breaks to watch those much-hyped commercials! Either way, Lad spillet begynde!