Super Bowl 50 through the eyes of our professors

Faculty weighs in on the face-off between the Broncos and Panthers

February 3, 2016

With their specialized knowledge and research, professors tend to see the world a bit differently. So what do they see when they look at the events surrounding this year’s Super Bowl? Learn what four CU Denver professors from different disciplines think you should watch out for at this year’s championship game and who they think will come out as winners when the Denver Broncos clash with the Carolina Panthers.

Super Bowl 50 as a narrative

Teague Bohlen, associate professor of creative writing and English

What to watch for: “This game creates a perfect storm for those of us who are narrative thinkers. We have the narrative of two quarterbacks with the biggest age gap in Super Bowl history. You have the narrative significance of the number 50, which makes it seem larger than last year and likely still larger than next year. Locally we have this narrative of Peyton Manning. You have this guy who came from another team where he was the stalwart of that team, and now he is finding his second life in Denver. The big narrative there is, “Can he finally get the big Super Bowl win in Denver to cap his career?”

You also have this overarching narrative of the old guard versus the upstart. Cam Newton is the next generation of quarterback and plays the game in a very different way from Peyton Manning. They both have very solid, well-known personalities. A David and Goliath situation is playing out here, but I wouldn’t even know who to put in the David role and who as Goliath. I’m sure those roles would be reversed depending on which team you’re supporting.”

Game prediction: “If I was writing the story, the Broncos win. As a consumer of narrative, I am much more interested in the last grasp of greatness of an old warhorse trying to be the best he can be one more time.

Three kinds of ad—head, heart, and humor

Michelle Carpenter, associate professor of visual arts

What to watch for: “The Super Bowl is highly recognized as a moment in time where advertisers are going to put out their best in writing and storytelling to connect with an audience and bring in a new one. The consumer is bright and expects clever narrative in our stories. It is really about making a brand narrative so we have a connection to that brand.

It’s always interesting to see what kind of narrative structure and what kind of hook they will use to draw us in—whether it will be head, heart, or humor. We see head often paired with a reputable person so that you trust a brand enough to buy a product, like with medicine. An example of heart would be the Puppy Love commercial from Budweiser that had an amazing narrative of a dog and a horse. We see several examples of humor, like Snickers’ Betty White ad.”

Game prediction: “I hope the Broncos win! I hope Peyton Manning gets this win. I think it’s going to be hard, but I think we’re going to see a great game.”

How to forget the past

Tom Noel, professor of history, also known as “Dr. Colorado”

What to watch out for: “Consider the past. Those who don’t are doomed to repeat it. The Broncos began playing in 1960, and have since become the dominant Colorado cult. Priests reschedule masses around the games. Rabbis have been known to wear orange yarmulkes. The Broncos game is the ultimate Sunday ritual for Coloradans who will be in front of a television set, if not at the game. As fans declare, even God must be a Bronco fan because he paints sunsets blue and orange. Despite their worshipful disciples, the Broncos have lost most Super Bowls, often by embarrassing scores. So many of us are a bit apprehensive about what is going to happen on Sunday. A win here will help to wipe away that losing history, especially since we’re the underdog going in.”

Game prediction: “I fear that this could be another humiliating game for the Broncos. Preparing for the worst, we all feel that much better if it doesn’t happen.”

Home team playing at the big game doesn’t mean an economic boom

Woody Eckard, professor of economics

What to watch for: “Obviously, there will be a lot more chips and dip sold around the Super Bowl. But in Denver and Charlotte, everyone will be staying home watching the ballgame. If you’re running a business like a restaurant or normal store, they will likely be empty. That, in turn, could produce a negative impact on local sales that evening. Ahead of the game people will be buying large quantities of munchies and drinks. But during the game it could actually have a negative local economic impact— but not a big one.”

Game prediction: “It’s got to be the Broncos! The old baseball song says root, root, root for the home team, and that also applies to football.”