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Super Bowl: Television Events
@The Wednesday English Conversation Club
Bethesda Library, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA

Let us get started…
Today we will talk about playing ball. Do you kick a ball, carry a ball, or hit a ball with a stick? However you play it, watch it, or try to ignore it, sports are important in almost every country around the world. Will you be watching the championship game of the National Football League (NFL) on Super Bowl Sunday? No? What is your passion?

American football

Every year at the end of January there is a popular American football sporting event called the Super Bowl. Many teams in various cities have competed weekly since September. Two city teams that have the best winning records play in one final game, the Super Bowl, for the season championship.

The Super Bowl is broadcast free on national television. A radio or television license is NOT required in the US. We suggest you watch it to learn more about American culture!

Think about playing and watching sports in your home country.

In pairs for 5 minutes, ask and answer these questions.

• What is your home country’s national sport?
• Who is the most famous player?
• Where is the best place to play it?
• At what age do people learn it?
• Do you like to play it?
• Where is the best place to watch it?

Listen and share your partner’s answers with the group.

Round Robin ~ each participant, in turn, poses one of the following questions to the group:

Is the Super Bowl on television in your home country? Is it free to watch events on TV in your home country? Is American football popular there?

The Super Bowl is a television event and has traditions and rituals involving what we see, hear, taste, and feel. Advertising is important. Which companies sponsor sport in your home country? Where do you see the advertising? Which kinds of advertising or commercials encourage you to buy?

Are there commercials in your home country during a TV event? What types of commercials do you watch? What is the funniest or best commercial you have ever seen? Here? At home?

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest U.S. food consumption day, second only to Thanksgiving! The streets will be deserted. The only one on the road will be the pizza delivery guy! Do you eat snack foods while watching TV? What types of food?

Super Bowl food is good hearty fare like chili, barbeque spare ribs, and vegetable dips. Do you prepare or buy special foods for any TV event in your home country? What kind?

People use the back of a truck or the tailgate as a table to serve food at a sporting event. So, if we serve food while watching a sport, the party is called a tailgate – even if we are thousands of miles from the game! Do you think that is a good idea to eat while watching TV? Why?

How do you relax after a hard day’s work? Why do you think we call watching whatever is on TV vegging out?

Some people watch events at home on TV while others watch events in sports bars. Where do people gather in your home country to learn about events? How popular is betting on events in your home country? Is it legal?

Even when Americans watch the Super Bowl on TV, we wear special color clothing associated with our favorite team. What is your favorite team? What are its colors? What clothing do you have in those colors?

The two Super Bowl teams will each have a symbol as a lucky charm or mascot. Does your home team, city, or country have a mascot? What is it? An animal?

Angry U.S. fans sometimes shout, "Kill the ump!" when they disagree with the umpire’s or referee’s decision. What was the best call you ever heard? The worst? La Mano de Dios?

The crime rate in the US goes down during the Super Bowl. Even the criminals are busy watching the game. What about after the game? How do fans celebrate in your home country?

The Super Bowl is famous for the halftime entertainment. There will be musicians, bands, and cheerleaders. Do you have cheerleaders in your home country? What are some of the specials songs, chants, or dances associated with events? Please perform for us!

In 2008, researchers at the University of Chicago found that being a sports fan improves language skills! How much time do you spend Monday morning quarterbacking or discussing sport? Do you prefer to watch live, to view on TV, or to listen to events on the radio? Why?

The Super Bowl is just one of many popular TV events. Reality TV programs such as Survivor and American Idol are as competitive as football. Do you watch programs like these? Which is your favorite and why?

Survivor and American Idol are based on British TV programs and are popular around the world. What are these programs called in your home country? Would you describe how they work? Who decides who wins? Have you ever “voted”?

Lastly, advertisers and the media believe the target audience for sporting events in North America today is men between the ages of 18 and 40. What events do women watch in your home country? What would increase the number of female sports fans?

Sources and Resources: for more English Learner information
Watching the Pros vs. Playing the Game: How Sports Coverage Affects Community-level Athletes
by Romayne Smith Fullerton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Western Ontario [Canada]
WECC is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Bethesda Chapter, 26-Jan-09

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