January 15, 1967. The world was engulfed in the Cold War, Civil Rights was still a hot button issue and Disco had yet to be invented. But on this day, a seismic event occurred that changed the world and would usher in a revolutionary fusion of sports and technology. The revolution wouldn’t actually happen for another 30 years but the pieces were set in place when Super Bowl I kicked off.
Think for a moment about how different the Super Bowl is to day versus how it was in 1967.
Back when the first Super Bowl kicked off, people actually lost footage of the game, as to this day we don’t have a complete visual play-by-play of happened. We know what happened but we can’t actually see every play. Today, games that aren’t even on as massive of scale as the Super Bowl have twenty different television angles with a hundred different lenses you can view the game through from the comfort of your home on a mobile tablet.
Even though we have spotty footage of the Super Bowl today, it was innovative in it’s time. Never before had an NFL game been simulcast on more than one major network before Super Bowl I. The only other time in NFL history this has happened is in 2007 when the Patriots and Giants played in Week 17 when New England was going for an undefeated season.
I’m not that old, so I’m not going to bust out the ol’ back in my day cliché, but even 13 years ago when the Ravens were last in the Super Bowl, it just wasn’t what it is today.
For example, ten years ago we had to sit and watch N’SYNC and Areosmith play the Super Bowl halftime show, but this year, thanks to a crowd sourcing campaign by Pepsi, you don’t have to sit and just watch — you can be in the halftime show.
For years now we’ve been able to interactively choose what Super Bowl commercials we want to see and select certain aspects of the game we want to participate in. Think about the commercials in 1967 compared to today; do you think something like the Bud Bowl would have been able to exist where you buy a ticket in advance of a commercial and see if your ticket has the winning score?
Bud Bowl didn’t invent this type of home viewing participation, but thanks to the explosion of television in the years since Super Bowl I, it was able to become a successful (albeit kind of lame) advertising campaign. Bud Bowl was a game within a game — Inception, eat your heart out.
Even think of something as simple as Twitter. We don’t have to even actually have to watch the game to know what’s going on or at the very least we can have our own customized commentary track to the events we’re watching on TV.
When Kevin Dyson was tackled a yard short of the endzone in Super Bowl XXXIV, the only people we could comment on the play to were the people at our Super Bowl parties. If that play had happened today, it would have broken Twitter.
Before the technology boom, going to the Super Bowl was an event, and while it’s still an event today, a bigger and equally looked forward to event is Super Bowl parties. The best Super Bowl party you could get 30 years ago was tailgating outside the stadium, but today we can watch that game in our homes on five different television in five different languages with crystal clear picture quality.
Pretty soon, with the advancement of 3D technology, we’ll be able to play in the Super Bowl, or at least feel like we are. Surround sound stereo systems have taken single channel radio play-by-play and inflated it into feeling like you’re actually at the game. DVR has given us the ability to literally pause the game while we take a bathroom break or rewind the action to see a great play one more time.
We live in an age of taking things for granted, and many of us have now simply been born into this world where this is the only way we know how to view the Super Bowl. But while you’re drooling over your wings, fumbling between six different remotes for ten different devices, complaining about how your cable company;s poor signal is preventing you from seeing every single blade of grass on the field — remember how things used to be and how drastically the things we take for granted have altered and enhanced our Super Bowl viewing experience.