UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A pair of Penn State faculty members have co-edited and created content for a special edition of the International Journal of the History of Sport. Peter Hopsicker, associate professor of kinesiology and head of the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences at Penn State Altoona, and Mark Dyreson, professor of kinesiology at Penn State University Park, and director of research and educational programs for the Penn State Center for the Study of Sport in Society, assembled a team of distinguished scholars from across the globe to study the first 50 years of the Super Bowl.
The essays focus on the history of this unique sporting event from a variety of perspectives, including the politics and economics of the game in the United States and perceptions of the event in Canada, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. The special issue of the journal will be published in February 2017.
In 2016, the National Football League (NFL) staged its 50th Super Bowl. Over the course of a half century, the game has become the broadest “shared experience” in American culture, according to Hopsicker. As television ratings, cultural practices, and scholarly tomes reveal, more people participate in watching the Super Bowl than attend religious services, vote in elections, commemorate patriotic events, play Pokémon Go, or engage in any other common endeavor in the United States. Super Bowl Sunday has evolved into a new American holiday dedicated to the celebration of consumption — of food, media, sports and advertising — the driving force of modern culture, said Hopsicker.
Beyond the U.S., the Super Bowl does not rank as highly as a global phenomenon, though it increasingly draws larger audiences in many nations around the globe. Some watch as curious students of American habits; others seem to be developing an affinity for American-style football. The differing reception of the Super Bowl around the world reveals important clues about the patterns of American influence in international affairs, said Dyreson.
Hopsicker and Dyerson also contributed articles to the volume: Hopsicker penned “’Superbowling’: Using the Super Bowl’s Yearly Commentary to Explore the Evolution of a Sporting Spectacle in the American Conscious,” and Dyreson authored “The Super Bowl as a Television Spectacle: Global Designs, Glocal Niches, and Parochial Patterns.” The pair also collaborated on the introduction of the journal with a piece titled, “A National Holiday and a Global Curiosity.”
In addition to Hopsicker and Dyreson, Matthew McAllister, professor of media studies and chair of the graduate programs in Penn State’s College of Communications; and Elysia Galindo-Ramirez, doctoral candidate in media studies, contributed “Fifty Years of Super Bowl Commercials, Thirty-Two Years of Spectacular Consumption,” to the special issue.