Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Super Bowl LV looked different, but incorporated both new and old for an exciting game

By Anastasia Bekker 

Elm Staff Writer 

On Sunday, Feb. 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the champions of Super Bowl LV, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31 — 9. The championship game awarded the Buccaneers their second Super Bowl title, and quarterback Tom Brady his seventh Super Bowl ring.

Despite winning the championship title the previous year, the Chiefs failed to keep up their streak. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes played with a broken toe, and the team’s offense struggled to compete with Tampa Bay. 

The Buccaneers secured their win with strong plays from Brady, as well as other new members such as Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette. 

 “Super Bowl LV on CBS . . . drew an average TV audience of about 92 million viewers who tuned in to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in what turned out to be a lopsided contest,” Nielsen, a media research company, reported on Feb. 9. 

According to ESPN, when including those who streamed the game the total audience was 96.4 million, a decrease from past years — in 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers championship drew 101.3 million viewers. 

Most TVs tuned in from Kansas City, while the second largest viewership came from Boston. Although the New England Patriots didn’t play, Brady drew viewers from the fanbase of his former team. 

There was also a smaller in-person audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 25,000 fans in the stadium. However, Super Bowl LV became the most streamed of all time, with CBS reporting that 5.7 million viewers streamed the game per minute. 

According to Vox, the the National Football League’s approach to COVID-19 prevention  improved after teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans suffered from outbreaks among players and staff at the beginning of the season. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the approach to COVID-19 prevention, publishing a case study on Jan. 29 about the methods that allowed the league to keep their infection rates low, including wearing masks and restricting physical contact between athletes and staff members. 

Alongside these mandated practices, other traditions of the Super Bowl itself were altered to not only ensure the safety of both the players and those watching from the sidelines, but also to focus on those who made the continuance of this event possible.

This year’s opening ceremonies featured Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate who read her work at President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. For Super Bowl LV, she performed her poem titled “Chorus of the Captains” in a pre-recorded video, which honored three guests at the game: educator Trimaine Davis, ICU nurse manager Suzie Dorner, and veteran James Martin. 

For this year’s halftime show, The Weeknd performed a list of hits, including “Earned It,” and “Starboy,” while surrounded by complex sets and back up dancers wrapped in bandages. The costuming is a reference to the artist’s publicity stunt, where he pretended to have undergone a botched plastic surgery. 

“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” The Weeknd told Variety on Feb. 3. 

As far as entertainment goes, the Super Bowl is also known for its collection of ridiculous and star-studded commercials, according to Vox’s Melinda Fakuade. This year’s commercials featured Michael B. Jordan as Amazon’s Alexa, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Shaggy eating Cheetos, and many more celebrities in ads for big brand names. 

From the game to the audience to the halftime show, the Super Bowl looked a little different this year. Although there are more regulations, technology, and an increasingly virtual audience, the NFL was able to keep the tradition of the Super Bowl alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Featured Photo caption: On Feb. 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9, winning the Super Bowl championship for the second time after Kansas City’s victory the previous year. Photo Courtesy of Dave Adamson.

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