It’s late January / early February, and you know what that means – time for the Super Bowl! And Groundhog Day, I guess, if you’re into a large rodent predicting the weather at a 39% success rate.
Really, we’ll pay attention to anything that makes us forget it’s late January / early February
Anyways, the Super Bowl. The one time of year that a bunch of people who don’t even like football gather to watch 1 hour of football, 15 minutes of performance by some absurdly incongruous singer, and 2 hours and 45 minutes of inane “analysis” and bizarrely over-the-top commercials.
Unless you live in Canada. Then you get regular commercials
So, while you listen to Troy Aikman explain how throwing the ball makes it go in the air, here are some science facts to ponder.
Ponderment #1: Why did Fox hire a man who’s had 8 concussions to think up interesting things to say on the fly?
To the thousands in attendance, and millions watching around the world… – The Super Bowl consistently sells out, so the number of people watching at the game is limited to the number of seats available. The largest crowd was 103 985 people for Super Bowl XIV (that’s 14). That’s nothing compared to the TV and streaming numbers, which reach somewhere between 110 and 120 million. For context, that would be the world’s 12th largest country by population.
And presumably the largest country by mass
Make some NOISE!!! Anyone who has ever been to a sporting event is familiar with the electronic scoreboard pleading with the crowd to GET LOUD! while displaying a decibel meter that climbs regardless of whether anyone is actually making any noise. There’s no need for that at the Super Bowl, though. Super Bowl crowds have gotten as loud as 107 db, loud enough to cause hearing damage. In fact, the “12th man” fanbase in Seattle once got up to 137 db, registering as a minor earthquake.
Nothing says “fun” for a city built on a fault line like an earthquake
I can throw a football a quarter-mile – Super Bowl LI (that’s 51) will feature Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, two of the best quarterbacks in the league. And neither one of them can throw a football .25 of a mile. But most NFL quarterbacks can chuck a ball up to around 70 yards, or about 64 m. That would take Usain Bolt about 6.13 seconds to run at his world record pace. Quarterbacks can also toss a ball at around 60 mph, over twice as fast as Bolt.
Or infinity times faster than Tom Brady
Accounting for deflation – Speaking of Tom Brady, he was suspended for 4 games at the beginning of this season for deflating footballs 2 years ago in a series of legal events so cataclysmically stupid I couldn’t begin to recount it here. Why did he deflate footballs, though? Well, NFL footballs are supposed to hold a pressure of between 12.5-13.5 pounds per square inch (psi). Regulation footballs are around 11 inches long and 22 inches in maximum circumference, which is pretty big to hold in one hand. By deflating the football by about 2 psi, Tom Brady could get his hand more comfortably around the football and throw it with better accuracy. NFL teams bring footballs for their own offense, so the deflated footballs only helped the Patriots’ offense. Tom Brady is a dirty, ball-deflating cheater and all records and awards he holds should come with an asterisk.
How does he live with himself?
Punch drunk love – Even if you don’t follow football, you may be aware that the NFL has a bit of a problem with their players developing progressive neurodegenerative diseases. Apparently running head first into 300 lbs. men in hard plastic armor isn’t great for your brain. Anyways, the technical term for the disease is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), but was previously known as dementia pugilistica, or literally “punch-drunk”, because it was first discovered in old boxers. Football isn’t the only sport with a problem, as CTE has been found in athletes from hockey, rugby, wrestling, and basically any other contact sport. Maybe Apollo Creed was on to something when he said “be a thinker, not a stinker”.
For example, would a thinker ever wear such a ridiculous outfit?
Going Rogue – The Super Bowl is almost as well-known for its half-time show as it is for football. And in the long, mostly idiotic history of Super Bowl shows, one stands heads and fins above the rest – Katy Perry, and her dance-challenged “Left Shark”. To refresh your memory, Katy Perry sung a song between two guys in shark outfits, and the guy on the left “went rogue” by completely screwing up the dance.
“Nailed it” – Left Shark
Anyways, Left Shark isn’t alone. In fact, fans of Jaws might remember Hooper’s speech about rogue sharks – sharks that swim alone and develop an exclusive taste for human flesh. In actuality, though, “rogue sharks” probably don’t exist. In fact, most shark “attacks” are actually bumps the shark uses to investigate. There’s actually about a 1 in 8 million chance of dying in a shark attack. Actually, you have better odds of dying while performing in the Super Bowl half-time show.
And much, much better odds of your soul dying during the half-time show
Dan works a part-time job deflating footballs for Tom Brady. Email him at info [at] scienceeverywhere.ca to see a topic covered here.
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