Super Bowl & American Football - What is it all about?

Small talk about sports is common in American workplaces. Today, I ask Matt Wade a few questions about [American] football and the Super Bowl, which is coming up this Sunday, February 8, 2016 

What is the Super Bowl?

Buffalo Bills Game
Credit: Nikhil Punnakkali
The National Football League (NFC) championship game, played annually between the champions of the National and the American Football Conferences (AFC).  The NFL is the highest level of professional football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in September of the previous calendar year. The 2016 Super Bowl will be the 50th Super Bowl. 

When is the Super Bowl?
The game is played annually on a Sunday as the final game of the NFL Playoffs. The game is currently played on the first Sunday in February.


Why is it called Super Bowl Sunday?
Because the Super Bowl is always played on a Sunday.


What teams usually play in the Super Bowl?
The champions of the National and the American Football Conferences (AFC & NFC)


Are there Super Bowl celebrations?
On Super Bowl Sunday, millions of people gather to watch the Super Bowl. Some such gatherings are known for the large amount of food that is consumed by attendees.

Fellow Keralites "Couchgating"
Credit: Jophis Eilas

I have heard of tailgating. Is this related to football? Is it done on the Super Bowl, too?
Yes. Tailgating is a strong tradition among American football fans, both college and professional.


What is tailgating, exactly?
The term tailgating derives from the tailgate of a pickup truck. People used to park at games, put down the tailgate on their truck and use it as a table for food and drinks that would be consumed before entering the stadium for the game.  Now, tailgating is more sophisticated as people will drive motor homes, with BBQ grills, lawn chairs and other equipment in tow.

Bills vs. Vikings Ticket
Credit: Jophis Eilas

What kind of foods do people eat or drink at a football game?
Common foods are hamburgers and hot dogs, while soda and beer are the most popular drink selections.


How is football played? What are the rules? 
See this post for video tutorials. 

Is it expensive to go to a football game or the Super Bowl?
Because there are only eight home games and the demand is so high, ticket prices for football tend to be rather high. For the Super Bowl, since it is such a major corporate event, the prices are often too high for the regular fan. See more here about associated costs for attending Super Bowl 50.


How can I make small talk about football or the Super Bowl with my US colleagues?
Good questions to ask would be:
  1. What team do you root for?
  2. (If you don’t follow a team) I am thinking of following the NFL.  What team do you recommend I begin rooting for and why?
  3. At the football stadium
    credit: attachedmoms.com
    Who do you think is going to win?
  4. Who is your favorite player on each team?
  5. Where are you watching/where did you watch the Super Bowl?
  6. How many times has your team won the Super Bowl?  When was the last time?
  7. How long have you rooted for your team?


Are there any idioms or phrases people used related to football?
  1. Blitz: a term used to emphasize sending many defensive players to tackle the quarterback before he can pass the ball
  2. Interference: a term for when a defensive player hits a receiver before the ball has been received by the quarterback
  3. Downhill runner: When a running back runs quickly through blocking lanes and doesn’t hesitate
  4. Halftime show: the entertainment program that happens between the second and third quarters
More photos of people capturing the football spirit:
Livin' it up - a Limo Ride to the Game!
Credit: Jophis Eilas




Start 'em when they're young!
Credit: Jophis Eilas


Face painting - Team colors
Red, White, Blue
Credit: Jophis Eilas

Girl wearing a Green Bay Packers
helmet holding a football.
credits: attachedmoms.com



Another time of the year Americans are football crazy is during Thanksgiving. Read more about Thanksgiving


Author, Matt Wade, CEO of GamePlan is a thought leader in academic and career planning, a product evangelist, and a vanguard of higher education’s progressive movement. 

Related Posts: 

Small Talk Made Easy 
Transition from Small Talk to Business Talk 
TV Channels in the US 


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