Super Bowl a 'cultural experience' (04-25-14)
Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor
Friday, 25 April 2014 09:44
The Super Bowl is an American cultural experience, according to Frank Supovitz, who is the senior vice president for events for the National Football League.
|Frank Supovitz is in charge of events for the National Football League. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
''It's a time when people gather together. It's a very tribal experience. There is probably nothing that brings America together as closely or as consistently as the Super Bowl,'' Supovitz said Thursday. ''Part of the reason for that is that not only is the NFL in a position of prominence in the American sports landscape, but beyond that the halftime show is highly anticipated from an entertainment perspective. The commercials are something that are really must-see's in a lot of cases.
''So there is really no opportunity to walk away from the television set and not miss something important.''
Supovitz was in Bowling Green Thursday as a guest of the Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project at Bowling Green State University. The project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The project benefits students and faculty at BGSU, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes.
Maxwell, a BGSU graduate, is the former director of broadcasting with the NFL.
The Super Bowl has developed into a major event and while there can be 70,000 or 80,000 fans inside the stadium, there are thousands more at the site, who don't go to the game.
''One of the main areas of growth for the Super Bowl has been how many fans participate in things that are not necessarily the game,'' Supovitz said.
At this year's Super Bowl in the New York City area, there were 1.5 million people on Super Bowl Boulevard, which closed Broadway from 34th Street to 48th Street.
''It was our very first outdoor winter fan fest,'' Supovitz said. ''It was only open for four days ... but it incorporated everything from a toboggan ride that 28,000 people took, to kicking games and throwing games, and a 3-D show against Macy's.''
The broadcast of the 2014 Super Bowl, which was the 48th Super Bowl, drew 111.5 million viewers. The halftime show drew 115.3 million viewers.
''The most important thing is to try to execute it as flawlessly as possibly as it can be, given the millions of details and hoping that if and when something goes wrong, because something always does, it's the something that nobody sees but us,'' Supovitz said.
One thing that everyone saw go wrong was the 2013 Super Bowl power outage at the Superdome in New Orleans.
''What was really important about the lights going out is that we got them back on,'' Supovitz said. ''We recognized that the entire country knew the lights went out. That's not what was on our mind. What was on our mind was, how do we get the game started again?
''Everybody who was involved at that time, did everything they could to determine what happened, and how are we going to fix it?,'' he continued. ''Twenty-four minutes later, the lights started to come back on which was part of the plan. We drilled for those kind of scenarios, to respond to them as a team.''
Supovitz added that no one turned away from their televisions, and that sales of food and merchandise at the Superdome went well during the outage.
Supovitz started as an usher at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1973 while in high school.
He worked his way through the organization at Radio City and 10 years after he started, he became the house manager and learned the entertainment marketing business. He spent a total of 16 years at Radio City.
''The last thing I was asked to do there was to help them develop the special events business,'' he said. ''The special events were all the events done away from Radio City, so it was really a production company.''
While at Radio City, he was involved with the Super Bowl halftime show in 1988, which was his first experience with the NFL.
After leaving Radio City, Supovitz had his own company for a few years and then was with the National Hockey League for 13 seasons running their events business. He has been with the NFL since 2005.
In addition to the Super Bowl, Supovitz is involved with the Pro Bowl and the NFL draft.
''The Pro Bowl is still the most-watched televised all-star game of all the sports,'' Supovitz said.
''The NFL draft is the No. 1 most watched non-sports, sports event. It's a business meeting,'' he added.
Supovitz and the NFL are currently working with three cities - Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans - who are bidding to host the 52nd Super Bowl.
The three cities will make presentations next May at the NFL owners meeting in Atlanta.
''In a very real sense, we are helping each of them to develop their very best proposal, their very best plan they can develop.'' Supovitz said. ''It's about a four-year planning cycle. Right now we are working on three or four Super Bowls at a time.''
Last Updated on Friday, 25 April 2014 11:19