By Marina Deane-Gonzalez
SILVER SPRING, Md.– There’s nothing cuter than puppies running around a field and playing with chew toys. That’s exactly the thinking heads at the TV channel Animal Planet had when they created the Puppy Bowl.
While Superbowl Sunday gets many excited, those of us who are less sports inclined turn to this adorable bunch of puppies looking for their forever home.
For those who have never watched this display of puppy cuteness, the essential premise is two teams of puppies play with chew toys on a mini football field.
And however care free the event might seem, many months of planning go into this counter sports programming.
The event is actually filmed over a couple days in October, then edited down to the 2 hour version that is televised on Superbowl Sunday.
And with so many puppies, there’s bound to be a lot of footage to edit.
“[Napping] happens more than you would think, as crazy as it is with all the noise,” said Dan Schachner, referee for the last 9 games. To create a successful show takes a lot of preparation, a good scouting group, a top notch cleanup crew, and, of course, a lot of peanut butter and treats.
Since its creation in 2005, the Puppy Bowl has only been rising in popularity. Since the original show, the makers of the puppy bowl have included a kitten halftime show, a referee sloth, a hamster powered scoreboard, a national anthem sequence, and a team of barnyard animal cheerleaders.
However, it’s creation was mostly an accident. “The scheduling group at Animal Planet came up with the mandate that they wanted counter-programming material for the Super Bowl,” David Doyle, former vice president of program development for Animal Planet told Rolling Stone. Margo Kent, the executive producer for Puppy Bowl says she “remembers that “It was always a joke: How do you counter the Super Bowl? Let’s just put a box of puppies up there and call it a day.”
Though joking, it seemed like a good idea. By the time the 2004 Super Bowl rolled around, Animal planet had set up and filmed the very first puppy bowl in a little studio right here in Silver Spring.
Since that time, the ratings have only risen. And it’s not hard to see why, who wouldn’t want to watch puppies play around and score touchdowns through tiny goal posts?
In addition, the Puppy Bowl has begun to capitalize on their rising popularity with a line of merchandise you can buy from the Discovery Store.
But not only does the puppy bowl provide entertainment, it also can help the pups who participate find their forever homes.
This year’s game featured 96 puppies up for adoption. According to CNN, for the past 16 years 100 percent of the puppies who participate in the event get adopted.
For shelters around the country, this is a great way to boost their adoption rates and help find the animals they care for a place to live.
“It was like finding out your kid won a championship,” said Krista MacDonald, director of rescue programs for Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue in an interview with the New York Post. Two of the shelter’s puppies, Blueberry Pie and Peach Pie, made it into the 2018 games.
From a joke in 2005, to a program with millions viewers, the Puppy Bowl provides entertainment for non-sports fans, while also helping adoptable animals find a loving home.