But this year many American soldiers in Iraq with access to Internet-connected computers will be able to catch the game as it is being broadcast from Houston on Sunday.
"As the Super Bowl is aired, I am certain that troops will gather wherever there is a picture," said Maj. Tom Biggerstaff, an automations officer for the 82nd Airborne Division, in an e-mail message from central Iraq.
Some of the pieces necessary for delivering the Super Bowl to military computers have long been in place for Major Biggerstaff. Most military computers, for instance, are linked by high-speed Internet connections.
The game feed will come, as it usually does, via satellite from the American Forces Network, an arm of the military. The only missing piece was a device for turning the military's closed Internet into a television distribution system - one, of course, that does not interfere with military data.
For that, the 82nd Airborne, the First Armored and other divisions in Iraq will use a device with the unglamorous name VBrick VBXcast. The VBrick (which, as the name implies, is roughly the size of a brick) can take any conventional television signal, compress it into the video standard known as MPEG-4 and send it out through the Web.
At the other end, viewers can watch the streaming programming from a Web page by using Apple's QuickTime multimedia viewer. The programming is broadcast at a full-motion speed of 30 frames per second.
Rich Mavrogeanes, the founder and chief technology officer of VBrick Systems, based in Wallingford, Conn., said that the boxes purchased by the military were used for purposes beyond entertainment. Some Army field hospitals connect cameras to VBricks to send images of patients to larger medical centers for remote diagnosis.
Intelligence videos and messages from senior officers are also funneled through the devices, along with varied TV programming from the United States.
While special software in a standard PC can do the job of a VBrick, Mr. Mavrogeanes said his company's customers - which also include corporations and educational institutions - are often attracted by the device's robust yet compact nature.
The VBrick will not be able to overcome one problem with the Super Bowl, however. Kickoff time will be around 3:30 a.m. Monday in Iraq. Major Biggerstaff anticipates that many soldiers will give up sleep to catch the game. A delayed broadcast will be available later, but Major Biggerstaff noted that the rerun might lack suspense.
"I can only wonder if people will be able to keep the outcome a secret," he said.