Most American football odds lead to the Super Bowl. The Big Game is the culmination of a 17-game NFL regular season and playoffs, a shot at immortality for players and coaches alike.
It is unquestionably the biggest sporting event in America, dwarfing the revenue and viewing figures of the World Series, Stanley Cup or NBA Finals.
In part, this is due to its single-game nature compared with the series in the other major sports. Also, though, it is a signal of the NFL’s standing in the US, and the sheer spectacle of Super Bowl Sunday.
NFL bets are placed on the Super Bowl months in advance, but that is not enough to get close to being the biggest event in sport. Around 100 million tune into the Super Bowl in America, with around 50 million others switching on from other countries.
In contrast, north of one billion people saw at least some of the 2018 FIFA World Cup final. Over 300 million saw England against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Champions League finals often get near the 400 million mark.
While becoming a Super Bowl winner cements a legacy, particularly for a quarterback, the NFL has not broken into the worldwide market sufficiently for the finale to be considered the biggest event in all of sport.
The growth over the last decade or so is meaningful, of course, with more games being played abroad and the possibility of a franchise in London being suggested with increased frequency.
It is easy to get lost in the NFL London extravaganza, though. The NFL has blossomed in the UK, but it’s interest across the rest of the world is minimal even compared to MLB, the NBA and NHL.
Football, whether the Champions League, World Cup, Euros or Premier League, is light years clear of the NFL.
There are significant fan bases for Premier League teams on every continent. As it stands, the NFL is very much an American obsession with a healthy sprinkling of UK support.
The Super Bowl is still a massive event. While the football can sometimes be pushed off centre stage (literally, at half-time), by celebrity performances and high-budget adverts, that is all part of the Super Bowl experience.
It is an event in the truest sense, a day for NFL lovers and casuals to enjoy. You don’t have to have grinded through watching the Lions and Jets in Week 12 to enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.
Other annual sporting showpieces are trying to copy parts of the Super Bowl experience with pre-game shows and generating a greater sense of occasion.
The Super Bowl is the best at the extras, and the furore on social media each year is testament to that.
Yet, it is currently a long way from the world’s biggest sporting events, and has a chasm to cross to even enter the conversation alongside soccer’s continental and world finals.