With each passing year, the Super Bowl is generating more interest amongst U.S. Hispanic sports fans and increasingly becoming a key bridge between those who navigate across the Latino and American cultures.
Four well-known ESPN Deportes on-air personalities will be part of the network’s exclusive Spanish-language coverage of Super Bowl 50, featuring Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, live from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, February 7.
The following talent will share their insights into Latinos’ growing interest in American football: Álvaro Martín, a well-known voice for Hispanic NFL fans; Raúl Allegre, two-time Super Bowl champion; Kary Correa, SportsCenter anchorwoman; and John Sutcliffe, the first Hispanic sideline reporter for the NFL.
How do you explain Hispanics’ growing interest in the Super Bowl?
Álvaro Martín: The Super Bowl brings all Americans together. This event is comparable only to the Oscars award ceremony or the Olympic Games. As an immigrant, it’s a way for us to feel like any other citizen of this country. This is one of the few common denominators left in American society, and everyone talks about it the week before and the Monday after; it’s an event that transcends sports.
John Sutcliffe: The Hispanic community is currently the largest minority group in the United States; those who have been here a while have grown up to become fans of American sports, and the NFL is no exception. As Latinos gain a more relevant place in the country’s demographics due to our expanding population, the number of Hispanic NFL fans continues to grow.
Kary Correa: More and more media outlets are interested in covering the NFL, and that makes it easier for us to bring the sport to all audiences.
What do the NFL and the Super Bowl represent for Latinos?
John Sutcliffe: It means an opportunity for families to get together, enjoy traditional snacks, watch a show; a lot of people tune in just to watch the halftime show and not necessarily the game. The Super Bowl, sort of like Thanksgiving, is a day for families to enjoy a few hours of American football and also a great event. It is the perfect excuse for a family reunion.
Raúl Allegre: Many Hispanics currently living in the United States have already spent a considerable amount of time in this country, and many Latinos are second- or third-generation. American football is now the most popular sport, and people have grown up watching it or playing it at school.
Are you seeing Hispanics make their presence known in the NFL?
Raúl Allegre: There are now a lot of players of Hispanic descent in the NFL, and one prime example is Ron Rivera, one of Super Bowl 50’s head coaches and the son of a Puerto Rican father and a Mexican mother. We’re seeing outstanding players with Spanish last names everywhere. Most of them are sons of immigrants, but they were raised in the US and had the chance to start playing from a very early age. For those who come from abroad, I think it’s crucial that they study here so they can start playing college football, which is the stepping stone to the NFL.
What’s missing for this sport to really take root in the Hispanic culture?
Álvaro Martín: Maybe we need to wait a generation. A lot of Hispanics are playing at the high-school level, although that participation starts to dwindle at the college level and in the NFL. Now we need a new Hispanic generation to be the one to create an American football culture. We also need to create more resources and continue promoting and teaching the sport.
Kary Correa: The NFL has made a big effort to bring the sport to Hispanic fans, but I think more can be done. Hispanic players need more support, and I hope that will happen soon.
For now, the Hispanic presence is certain this Sunday with three prominent figures: Panther’s head coach Ron Rivera, who is of Hispanic descent, and Broncos stars Max Garcia, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, and Louis Vázquez, whose mother is Mexican.
For the live telecast in Spanish-language tune-in to ESPN Deportes beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET with a pregame special before the kick off, followed by a detailed postgame analysis.
Contributed: Hispanicize Wire – Super Bowl 50 and the Growing NFL Hispanic Fan Base