A Very Humphrey Super Bowl
Recently, Americans sat down together to eat, socialize, and watch football, commercials, and the most popular concert of the year. As the most watched telecast in U.S. history—this year’s event was watched by 114.4 million viewers—the Super Bowl promises a grand spectacle. This year featured a very competitive game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks that was decided in the last minute of the game. We asked some Humphrey Fellows in Boston and Seattle what their experiences were like.
The lead up to the game in each city was cause for much anticipation and excitement. Anurag Sahay at the University of Washington described how the city of Seattle prepared for the game. “The buzz in Seattle - the atmospherics! It was incredible! The entire City was decorated in green and blue of Seahawks. [..] And all of us got into the Superbowl spirit. All the Fellows at the University of Washington soaked in the festivities and enjoyed this unique American experience.”
The game brought Fellows and Americans together. Sahay noted “It brought me closer to my American friends. Seeing me wearing a Seahawks cap and discussing the game and feeling the lump in throat at the last minute reversal of fortunes, we bonded together - it was fascinating and enriching.” Despite the loss to the Seahawks, Sybony Biwa, at University of Washingon, said, “Even losing the Super Bowl can be seen as positive, because there are many lessons of faith, teamwork, and rising from the ashes that can be derived. I've seen and read so many lessons coming to light from this experience.”
Although Humphrey Fellows are only at their host campuses for ten months, they feel a sense of belonging and allegiance to their American football teams. Many Fellows made it a priority to watch the game and support their team. When asked who they were supporting, Jean-Bosco Abderamane at MIT said, “Of course my team was the Patriots.” Fadoum Sy, at the University of Washington, said “Even if I am living temporarily in Seattle, I feel like a real citizen and the team is mine, too.” Others felt that by just living in their respective cities, becoming a fan of their NFL team was inevitable. Kanwal Ali, also at the University of Washington, said he chose to support the Seahawks, “simply because one cannot live in Seattle without being a Seahawks fan."
A sense of community is an aspect of American culture that Fellows said greatly impressed them about the Super Bowl. Abderamane became a Patriots fan because he felt welcomed in New England and “I have the feeling to belong to this community.” Other Fellows felt that the experience showed them the community-focused nature of these two cities. Abderamane says, “Despite our difference we belong to the community [and] we share some value.” Others felt that it was a great unifying experience for them. Ali said, “I will describe it as a very exciting and memorable experience [and] a greatly uniting event that brought the whole city together.”
Another aspect of the game that Fellows remarked up on was the passion of American football fans. Biwa remarked, “When people believe in something, they go to great lengths to show support.” Basilios Peftouglou, at the University of Washington said, “Seattle is my city, my home, the place where I am living one of the most wonderful years in my life. And I like the passion that this city has with its team!
Overall, Fellows in both Seattle and Boston felt that the Super Bowl was a unique experience that allowed them to see a bright side of American culture and to experience the unity that a championship game can bring to a city. Sahay claimed, “Celebrating a unique event together - an event which collapses all barriers of race, color, religion and sex. Everyone is […] teammates! This event is a triumph of human spirit, of togetherness, and of camaraderie.”