Super Bowl LVI raises debate on and off the field

On Feb. 13, with great football, commercials, and the half-time show, Super Bowl LVI52 captivated the Westminster community and the world. After three rounds of playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals emerged as representatives of the NFC and AFC, respectively. The game was close, as many expected, and the Rams secured the championship, winning 23-20. 

“I expected it to be a close game,” said science teacher Adam Pullen. “I thought the Rams would probably win, but I was looking forward to some good competition.” 

The game lived up to expectations, with both teams staying consistently competitive, until the Rams pulled ahead with a fourth-quarter touchdown. The game was played at SoFi Stadium, the Rams home field, which caused controversy because, before this year, the Ssuper Bbowl had always taken place at a neutral site. However, tThis didn’t stop Bengals fans from attending the game, . Ddespite having to travel over 2,000 miles., Bengals fans traveled to attend the game.  For their third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, and first since 1989, Bengals fans from far and wide rallied together to support their team.

While the location of the Super Bowl raised questions, this was not the only controversy of the game. As usual, the referees made questionable calls that confused players and upset fans. One significant missed call occurred when Bengals receiver Tee Higgins appeared to hold the facemask of Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey, creating space for a 75-yard Bengals touchdown.

“There was one touchdown the Bengals scored that should’ve been called back,” said sophomore Carson Matheson. “It didn’t affect the outcome, though, which was fortunate.” 

Although the lack of retribution forfrom the referees caused complaints, it ultimately did not affect the Ram’s success. MoreoverHowever, the officials did not only upset Rams fans. With less than two minutes left and the Bengals in the lead, Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson incurred a controversial defensive holding penalty on a third- and- goal play. The call gave the Rams an automatic first down, opening a new set of downs allowingwhere the Rams to capitalized with a game- winning touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. With the game on the line, many players and fans wonder if the game would have ended differently without this call.

“I was rooting for the Bengals this year after being a fan of Joe Burrow at LSU,” said freshman Jake Kercher. “It was too bad that the last call really lost them the game.” 

Both teams were led by strong quarterbacks with very different backgrounds. Matthew Stafford, the Rams quarterback, just completed his 13th season in the NFL. After 12 straight years with the Detroit Lions, Stafford was traded to the Rams in 2021 and seems to have found his place after winning in his first Super Bowl appearance. While his years with the Lions didn’t bring much success, he is appreciative of his experiences with them. Stafford isn’t a stranger to the Westminster community, as many families and teachers have been a fan of him since his time at the University of Georgia, where he played quarterback for three years beginning in 2006. 

“It’s nice to see another Georgia quarterback win a Super Bowl,” said sophomore Robert Tarkenton. “He’s the first one since my grandfather, so it’s cool to see some more representation.” 

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has quite a different story. After campaigning to the Super Bowl in his second NFL season, Burrow has had an impressive start to his professional career. After winning the Heisman trophy and leading the LSU Tigers to a national championship in 2020, Burrow was the first overall pick for the Bengals. He has already broken franchise records, including the all-time highest completion percentage and most single-game passing yards.

Still, the quarterbacks were not the only players who showed up well in the Super Bowl. Rams receiver Cooper Kupp earned the Most Valuable Player award after catching eight of ten passes that came his way and scoring two touchdowns. However, it wasn’t all positive for the Rams receivers. Odell Beckhhkam Jr. suffered an ACL tear in his left knee during the first half, his second injury in 17 months. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Rams, especially after Beckham’s outstanding performance while healthy, catching two passes for 52 yards and scoring a touchdown all before halftime. On the opposing side, Tee Higgins, a Bengals receiver, finished with an impressive 100 yards and two touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase, oOffensive rRookie of the yYear, also contributed to the Bengals offense with five receptions for 89 yards. 

Regardless of interest level in football, people from around the world tune into the Super Bowl. While some focus on which team wins and what players succeed, others watch for the advertisements, halftime show, or social aspect of the event. This year the halftime show was performed by rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar along with singer Mary J. Blige. The star-studded list of performers was set to impress, but the Westminster community has different opinions on whether they truly executed to their full potential.

“I was underwhelmed,” said math teacher Jennifer Sande. “It was such a good lineup that I was expecting more.” 

On the other hand, some found the show exciting and fun to watch. 

“I thought it was awesome,” said math teacher Sara Pangle. “I love Dr. Dre.”

Different receptions to the performance may simply be a difference of musical preference, or contrasting opinions on how much is expected on such a huge stage. The commercials also raised some disagreement, as some of the decisions on how businesses chose to use their minimal screen time did not go over well with Westminster students. 

“I didn’t find any of them very interesting,” said Kercher. “Nothing called out to me, and that’s usually what Super Bowl commercials are supposed to do.” 

As the biggest American advertising event of the year, many expected more than what the Super Bowl ads had to offer. The only memorable ad amongst students seemed to be the image of the colorful QR code jumping around the screen. 

“I liked the QR code commercial,” said sophomore Emmie Hunter. “I thought it was a smart business tactic and had me trying to scan it every time it popped up.” 

The ad was for Coinbase, a cryptocurrency brand. Its ingenuity and originality caught the attention of viewers all around, no matter how much attention they’d been paying to the commercials or game.

Talk of the game in the Westminster community has died down after a few weeks, but debates onof everything from the plays to the halftime show are still as alive as ever online. Questions of how the outcome could have been different if the refs called a false start in the last minutes keep football watchers wondering and Bengals fans unsettled, while music lovers continue to dispute the quality of the halftime show.