According to my colleague Sutira, you’re fooling yourself if you believe the Super Bowl is all about the game. Well, I am the fool he speaks of. I care more about the actual game play than the commercials, to be sure. I usually only jump off the couch during the big game to grab a beer during those “captivating” commercials. So, I’m not the first guy to ask on Monday what I thought about the cute dog wearing running shoes, or if I thought the Samsung commercials were a little overkill. I am a football fan, and the Super Bowl game is the year-long culmination of my passion… or at least that’s what I tell myself.
I must remind myself in the days post Super Bowl, that the recaps, write-ups, articles, and statistics I see are generally more about the spectacle of the game, than the game itself. As a social media researcher, I can also confirm this reality for myself by looking at social stats. Although I try really hard to validate my passion for the game on the field, I must agree with my colleague Sutira and his point about the Super Bowl being about more than just the football game.
When I examined the game specific plays during the Super Bowl, I expected to see a large amount of chatter about each of the touchdown passes, spectacular catches, interceptions and penalty calls. What was the most discussed play of the entire game, I wondered to myself? The game winning touchdown by Ahmad Bradshaw? The great catch by Mario Mannhingham that helped setup the game winning touchdown? The answer was neither of these.
Using social media monitoring platform Visible Intelligence®, I found that the play that received the most social media attention- from the start of the game up until the final snap- was Tom Brady being flagged for intentional grounding on the Patriot’s very first offensive play. Among all major events, this one play was mentioned nearly twice as many times as any other on field event, including the game winning touchdown by Ahmad Bradshaw.
Surely something else during the game would have eclipsed the chatter about that penalty. In fact, the only other play to surpass these mentions, before the game clock expired, was the final Hail Mary heave by Tom Brady on the game’s final snap.
As the game progressed, the social media attention that Tom Brady’s penalty call received continued to outpace mentions of all other events as they happened, until the Hail Mary pass occurred.
The only game related event that surpassed the penalty call and the Hail Mary pass occurred after the final horn had sounded, the game clock had expired, the confetti had fallen and the celebratory stage for the victors had been wheeled out to midfield. Eli Manning was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLVI.
Beyond that, the only things that were mentioned more than each of the game’s most crucial plays were the commercials and a “minor” 12 minute spectacle called the halftime show. But who really cares about those?