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The Pow Wow

The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

Jaylon Thompson’s article on Yahoo Sports
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The Puppy Bowl

The Underrated Sunday Sporting Event
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Last year, I was scrolling through on Discovery+ when I came across something called the Puppy Bowl. My dad and I watched it together and ended up getting so invested in a bunch of puppies playing with toys or just lying around on a mini football field. It was the first time I had even heard of it, but now I’m looking forward to watching it live.

As of writing this article, Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend. While most people are excited about the actual football game, I will be paying more attention to the Puppy Bowl. Before cheering on the Chiefs, I’ll be rooting for either Team Ruff or Team Fluff.

The Puppy Bowl is a parody Super Bowl that consists of many different puppies running around in a model football stadium with play-by-play commentary. There are dozens of toys placed around the area, and the way to score is crossing one of the end lines with a toy in their mouth. You’ll often see more than one puppy fighting over the same toys.

As well as being adorable and fun, the Puppy Bowl also serves to raise awareness about adopting and rescuing pets, as all the puppies featured come from shelters. Throughout the game, there are commercials for adoption-ready dogs that viewers can adopt on the spot on Animal Planet’s website.

Originally, the Puppy Bowl started as a joke. Animal Planet executives wanted to create counterprogramming to compete with the Super Bowl, but thought it seemed impossible. According to an interview with Margo Kent, the executive producer of the event, from Rolling Stone, “Let’s just put a box of puppies up there and call it a day. It’s not worth trying to go against the Super Bowl.”

Animal Planet went with it. With the help of the American Humane Association, they selected puppies from rescue shelters and formed two teams. Harry Kalas, NFL narrator for the Philadelphia Phillies, narrated the event.

When the “joke” first aired on February 6th, 2005, it had 5.58 million viewers. While still a long way off from the average number of Super Bowl viewers, the Puppy Bowl became a success. “People I knew were already planning Puppy Bowl parties [for next year],” says Kent, “We were surprised at how fast it caught on.”

Eventually, viewership of the Puppy Bowl had even surpassed other smaller football games, like the college Cotton Bowl and the NFL Pro Bowl. More was added to the event through the years, like a kitten halftime show. Now, the Puppy Bowl is Animal Planet’s biggest programming initiative, garnering more than 13.2 million viewers last year.

The Puppy Bowl isn’t actually filmed live. It’s filmed months in advance, with a veterinarian, ASPCA representatives, and representatives from the shelters the puppies come from on-site to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the animals.

The event also takes a long time to film. For just a two-hour production, it takes at least two days to film. On a Reddit AMA, Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner shared, “we are trying to showcase as many different puppies as possible, and we want to rotate them in and out, and give them as many chances to have action on the field as possible!”

A lot of planning and set-up goes into producing the Puppy Bowl. Things like smearing peanut butter on camera lenses to get dogs to lick them are done to add entertainment value.

The rules of the Puppy Bowl are fairly fast-and-loose, and calls are puns based off of real football calls. In the Puppy Bowl, you might have a “double touchdown” – two dogs dragging toys across opposite end lines at the same time – or a “team touchdown” – two dogs with one toy.

The spontaneity of the puppies makes for more exciting television. A puppy might run to the end line with a toy in its mouth, then drop it right at the last second and get distracted by a different toy.

Overall, the Puppy Bowl is a delightful, wholesome game before the Super Bowl. Other networks have created their own Super Bowl counterprogramming, such as the Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl or National Geographic’s Fish Bowl, but the Puppy Bowl was the one that started it all.

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About the Contributor
Lyra Thompson
Lyra Thompson, Writer
Lyra Thompson is 17 years old and a senior at Bonner Springs High School. She's had a passion for writing from a very young age and wants to be a fiction author and journalist in the future. In school, Lyra is involved in Scholar's Bowl, National Honors Society, FCA, and Academic Decathlon. Outside of school, she works at Cookie Co. in Lenexa. In her free time, Lyra loves to read, sing, play video games and board games, and watch TV.

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