Whether they are Super Bowl superfans, football novices or Doritos commercial connoisseurs, many students are looking forward to streaming Super Bowl LV this Sunday.
In the years before the pandemic, the Super Bowl was a notorious cause for large get-togethers, full of communal finger foods and spit-molecule-spreading banter.
Though COVID-19 social distancing guidelines will preclude students from engaging in such activities this year, the Super Bowl may enable those in isolation to connect with the outside world.
“My friends and I are definitely more excited about it this year,” first-year Taylor Bennett said. “It gives us something social to do with a few friends, and it’s something different in a time where everything’s the same."
Breaking the monotony
Because many students feel drained after long days of online classes, the Super Bowl may be a much-needed on-screen activity unrelated to school.
And the web’s most popular social media platforms have had a large influence on students’ plans to stream the game this year.
“If I were to miss any part of the Super Bowl, it would be the actual game,” Bennett said. “I want to see the commercials. I need to be able to engage in the social media memes after the fact and really understand what’s happening because I know TikTok is going to blow up.”
For those who are used to socializing during Super Bowl season, things are sure to feel different this year. Sophomore Caroline Bowersox said TikTok has inspired her viewing “party.”
“My roommates and I are going to do this thing we saw on TikTok where they did a dip night,” Bowersox said. “My roommate is really into Middle Eastern cooking, and she’s going to make hummus and somebody is going to make s’mores dip. I hope that there’s buffalo chicken dip there.”
For some students, however, this year’s Super Bowl is more than just an exciting event to escape the monotony of daily life during COVID-19.
Sophomore Alex Cáceres, a life-long fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said that this year’s Super Bowl is going to be one to remember.
“It's been such a historic year for Tampa Bay sports,” Cáceres said. “With how chaotic everything's been, that's at least one thing to be excited and happy about. Telling me this would happen a year ago, I would’ve said, ‘you’re crazy.’ I'm the most excited I've ever been for a Super Bowl.”
Cáceres said he always watches the Super Bowl at home with family. He still plans to continue this tradition while taking extra steps to keep his family and housemates safe.
Changes in advertising
Viewers are not the only ones switching it up for this year’s Super Bowl.
Many advertisers will continue to dish out millions for airtime during the Super Bowl, but their methods may be centered around current global issues rather than highlighting humor.
Professor Gary Kayye of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media suspects that a lot of this year’s advertisements will connect to the world we live in today.
“The question is, will it play to an audience that is tired of seeing that and is tired of sitting at home, or will the ads be creative enough where they break out of the mold and people see something they haven't seen before?” Kayye said. “When you see something you haven't seen before, that's when you want to share it with your friends and watch it over and over.”
On top of new advertising obstacles presented by COVID-19, Kayye said that viewers might expect to see ads from companies like Zoom, which rose to the top during the pandemic for the first time.
“Really good advertising leverages storytelling in a way that connects to the audience if they can be relevant in their storytelling,” Kayye said. “It’s harder this year because the big relevant topic is COVID, but that's a touchy subject.”
No matter where students stream the game, Cáceres said he expects it to be a close competition that everyone should watch.
“I really think a lot of people should be very excited for this,” Cáceres said. “You've got probably one of the most talented young quarterbacks ever in NFL history versus the greatest player of all time. You know, what more can you ask for?”
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