Super Bowl 46: Much love from Africa

By Yemi Ifegbuyi

What will the half-time show performance be like? Which brand commercial will steal the show? Most important, which team will get the next day headline as “World Champions?”

When Super Bowl 46 kicks off on Sunday, February 5, more than 170 million Football (American) fans, largely of U.S audience, are expected to watch the game between New York Giants and New England Patriots live on TV from Indianapolis.

With the internet now in its maturity stage, a significant percentage audience from other regions of the world, largely Europe, Asia and Latin America are expected to watch and follow minute-by-minute live report online, and trough local TV stations with broadcast rights.

But this won’t be the case in Africa, where the majority of Africans will be watching the bi-annual African Cup of Nations being hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Soccer (or football as it’s called in some parts of the world) is the number one sport in Africa. It’s the big deal, not American football.

Prince Amukamara and family at the 2011 NFL Draft. Photo Credit: SportsBata

Nevertheless, while African sport enthusiasts will be cheering their teams on Sunday at the African Cup of Nations, four Nigerians will be on duty for their NFL teams – New York Giants’ Osi Umenyiora, Tony Ugoh, and Prince Amukamara, and New England Patriots’ James Ihedigbo. These are the “Nigerian connection” at Super Bowl 46.

Prince, 23, the youngest among the four Nigerians was drafted by Giants in 2011. For the rookie cornerback, having the opportunity to play the prestigious NFL final, with more than a 50 percent chance of winning is “definitely humbling,” Amukamara told the media. The Super Bowl is a life time opportunity that has eluded some of the best football players in NFL history.

The presence of the Nigerian quartet is a proud moment for Africans, particularly Nigerians living in North-America, some of whom have become football super fans as a result of many years of living abroad. For some, football is more than a game, it is part of a larger process of social adaptation required to be fully integrated into the nuances of a new culture, far away from their home country.

On Sunday, a good number of Nigerians (just like many other fans) will endeavour to leave behind their ever busy work shifts, businesses and projects for some we-time with family and friends.

In a typical Nigerian family setting, you can be assured that not everyone cares for football. A Super Bowl house party is also a great time to compare the two sports that remain locked in the battle for identity supremacy – what do we call it, football or soccer? Whereas soccer is highly regarded as a beautiful game (the passing, dribbling, kicking and the display creative physical abilities), American football is known for its ruggedness, toughness and speed. Such indept dialogue will occasionally be interrupted by political satire and advocacy on issues in Nigeria.

James Ihedigbo(L), Osi Umenyiora (M) and Tony Ugoh (R)

Lately there has been a steady increase in the number of Nigerian-American football players in the NFL. This is not surprising considering the population of Nigerians that live in the United States and what some will argue as the Nigerian tenacity and strong appetite for success.

The U.S is believed to have the biggest population of Nigerians living outside Nigeria. A sizable population of Nigerian communities can be found in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas and Georgia.

Regardless of which side the god of football decided to smile upon on Sun-day, the Giants or the Patriots, clearly, at least a Nigerian name will be specially crafted in gold as champion of Super Bowl 46 – the biggest one-day sport festive on earth.

Yemi Ifegbuyi is a senior editorialist and director of operations for SBG media, publisher of He is also a strategic communications consultant on politics and business development, with special interest in North-America, Asia and sub-Sahara Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @tweetyemi

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