Presidents and Super Bowls. They're the biggest deals we have.
Let the game begin--and may the best American institution win!
From George Washington, father of the nation, versus Super Bowl I to Barack Obama against Super Bowl XVIV, the comeback win by the Saints over the Colts in 2010: Forty-four matchups, one at a time, one point per match. It's the most fun you can have finding out about America's Presidents and America's Game without having to read two separate books!
Based on the blog featured on ESPN Radio, National Public Radio, the BBC World Service, the Economist.com, the New Yorker, and elsewhere.
Don Steinberg Talks About America Bowl
Don Steinberg's writing has appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, Harper's, McSweeney's, Spy, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Huffington Post, and other publications.
America Bowl is a one-of-a-kind history book for kids and adults that looks at the U.S. presidents in a completely unique way: Each chapter compares one President to one Super Bowl game. It's a crazy concept-nobody else thought of it besides me-but it turns out to be a really fun way to read about history and football.
The key is that there have been 44 Presidents and 44 Super Bowls. Early in 2010, the Saints and Colts played in Super Bowl 44. At the time, Barack Obama was in office as the 44th President of the United States. Those numbers had never been equal before, and soon they won't be equal ever again (because the Super Bowl goes up by one every year). I'm a sports nut and statistics guy. As far back as I can remember, as a kid in grade school, I was learning facts about America's founding fathers and watching football games. In college, I studied government, and after that I became a sportswriter. There may have been other people who noticed the "44" coincidence, but only America Bowl turns it into a contest and an awesome history book.
Here's an example from the book: Game 16 of America Bowl compares Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President, with Super Bowl XVI, in which the 49ers defeated the Bengals. (Each game is an easy-to-read, two-page chapter). As the book explains, Super Bowl XVI was good-Joe Montana and the 49ers led 20-0 after the first half, and then the Bengals made it close. But Lincoln was better than good. He freed the slaves and held the nation together during the Civil War. Lincoln wins this match. By winning, he scores one point for the Presidents' team on the America Bowl scoreboard. By the time America Bowl reaches Game 40 (Ronald Reagan vs. Super Bowl XL) the score is tied at 20 to 20! You need to keep reading to find out whether the Presidents win or lose America Bowl! Along the way, young readers can learn a little about the accomplishments of each President and brush up on some important football knowledge. To me, that makes America Bowl one of the great American history books in American history!
Inspired by the once-ever fact that Super Bowl XLIV was played during the administration of the forty-fourth president, sports writer Steinberg pits each chief executive from George Washington on against the correspondingly numbered football championship. Along with handfuls of quick facts about years of service, political party, electoral votes, and the like on one side, and final scores, season records, and cost of a 30-second TV commercial on the other, he stacks a short tally of each administration’s successes and failures up against highlights and general quality of the paired gridiron conflict—then picks a winner. Based on vague criteria and arbitrary choices, he awards the presidents an early lead, but the overall “scoring” remains suspensefully close throughout. Readers who don’t know their QBs from their DBs will be lost by the author’s game summaries, the football photos are often only marginally relevant to the great plays being described, and the whole premise is ridiculous anyway—but, as Steinberg writes, “It’s the most fun you can have learning about America’s presidents and Super Bowls without having to read two separate books.” Grades 4-6. --John Peters