How sports and language bring people together around the world
American football is full of tradition and history. People are loyal to their hometown team, or simply enjoy the idea of a consistent Monday night activity during the season. Whether you connect to the food, the halftime show or the commercials, the Super Bowl is a day of entertainment and a celebration of athletic prowess that spans the globe.
The Super Bowl is currently broadcast live in 30 languages and more than 130 countries. Each state in the United States has different languages present- this accounts for unique needs around the country. Hoping to catch the game in your preferred language? Find out where to tune in on the NFL website.
Here are some facts behind the second most broadcast sports competition in the world:
Reaching People Where They Are
In 2020, the Super bowl halftime show featured American sign language (ASL) interpreters for the first time. This was a major step in accessibility but included some opportunities for growth. The execution of adding ASL to the telecast did not account for a positive user experience, which is an important part of adapting content for your audience’s needs. The ASL version of the game had to be watched on a separate device, which meant two simultaneous screens for one game- not ideal for viewing a live event.
Fox Deportes was the first network to offer a live Spanish telecast of the game in 2014. Telemundo.com began offering a Spanish-language live stream the next year, becoming the top non-soccer telecast ever at that time. These are all large steps to bring American football to a wider audience.
Entertainment and Culture Unite
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine were the first Latino band to play the Super Bowl halftime show in 1987. In 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were the first co-headers who were Latina and sang in both English and Spanish.
Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes became the first two deaf performers when they joined Dr. Dre and friends on stage for the 2022 halftime show. In 2023, Arizona native Troy Kotsur, known for his performance in the film CODA, performed the national anthem in American Sign Language (ASL) on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). Representation makes a difference and seeing performers that connect with your culture and interests on such a large stage is essential.
Around the World
American football has hit the mainstream in other ways as well. The International Federation of American Football (IFAF) has grown to a global community of 120 member nations spanning North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, making the game a global phenomenon.
Terms to Know When Watching the Show
Part of the tradition of American football is knowing the terms used for the various plays. Do you know the difference between a blitz, a blitzer or blitzing? Or when to use scramble (secret play) versus sack (tackle)? Football culture has words that make it known you’re an expert. (Full disclosure- we had to google these terms and look forward to keeping up with current trends.)
The Super Bowl is an event that rallies a global crowd whether they like the uniforms, the players, or are simply there to be entertained. It’s ingrained in the American culture and is expanding to other cultures as well.
Our tagline is culture, language, results and we are focused each day on finding examples of how these three things unite people in popular culture. ULG’s experts bring clients, partners and employees together by connecting culture and language through our full-service language options and are proud to offer live interpreting services for large-scale events such as the Super Bowl.
Connect with our interpretation team here.