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The Scarlet & Black

Proximity of Super Bowl 54 to the Iowa Caucuses complicates media coverage


By Ray Goedeker

This weekend, for the third time in history, the NFL Superbowl will predate the Iowa caucuses by a single day, giving candidates one last opportunity to advertise their campaigns across the most watched event in the United States. The National Football League’s championship game has long been held on a Sunday, when the problems of work and politics fade away for a few hours as the two best teams in the country face each other in one final match-up. This year, though, as residents of Iowa watch this ultimate battle of athleticism and skill, they will also be reminded of an even greater contest ahead.

So far, only two candidates, Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump, have shelled out the minimum ten million dollars necessary to purchase an advertisement during the sporting contest.  As more than 100 million people turn to their devices to watch America’s favorite sport, for the first time since 1989, they will see an advertisement related to politics. Intertwined with the classic Budweiser Clydesdales trotting along the screen and comical Doritos ads will be a high-stake fight between two billionaire adversaries. Tensions rose quickly as directly after Trump took out a 30 second time slot, Bloomberg, making a statement of wealth and mocking Trump’s cheaper time slot, took out a full minute-long advertisement. 

But an advertising competition during the contest is not the only parallel viewers can make between participants in the Superbowl and the political candidates this year. Andy Reid, long time coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, represents the Midwest, just like South Bend Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg. Conversely, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan represents coastal candidates such as Pennsylvania’s Joe Biden. One may also link Reid to Biden, a member of the old guard political class, as he is a “veteran” of the game of football. 

For key players like Warren and Buttigieg, who trail slightly in polls, they mirror the team from San Francisco who are currently showing odds at +1.5.  Just as the 49ers are the underdogs come Sunday, Elizabeth Warren is going to need a big showing from supporters at the caucuses to give momentum to her otherwise trailing campaign. The same is true for Pete Buttigieg who will need to pull on his Midwestern roots to rile up support Monday night. Both candidates are behind in many polls and would be placed in the same “+” odds as the weaker San Francisco 49ers.  

Most significant perhaps, is to connect Coaches Reid and Shanahan’s hope for a triumphant legacy if victorious on Sunday. If he wins, Ried will surely be named a Hall of Fame coach, propelled to permanent honor from the association he has worked for his whole life. In the same vein, the candidates look to be propelled into the next step of their candidacy after Monday’s event. The candidates are looking towards the caucuses to propel them to the next step in achieving a permanent spot in the timeless Hall of Fame of politics: a term as President. 


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  • J

    John Powel WalshFeb 2, 2020 at 4:48 am

    Genius. Is Trumps only 30 seconds then a Half Time Show ?

  • M

    Mark MilburnJan 31, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Excellent comparison of two ever converging areas of American culture: politics and sport.