I don’t really have a good opening paragraph for this post. I think I have a good point, but I don’t quite have the narrative to kick it off.
Now if I was the NFL, I’d have the perfect opening. I’d have crafted the perfect phrase, and delivered a genius punchline.
The NFL started today. And honestly, besides making sure no one on my Fantasy team was having neck surgery, I really didn’t think too much about it as the game kicked off.
Now throughout the evening, as I pounded out some work, handled some wedding stuff, and ran through some old emails, I had a Yahoo page open to keep track of the score.
What started as a blowout, slowly got better. And by the end of the game, I headed upstairs to catch the thrilling last minutes.
And as soon as the game was over, I felt regret. My brain yelled at me “Hell the Saints were on! Why weren’t we watching that??!!?? They were playing Green Bay for criminy sake!!”
The other half of my brain, the calm and rational part (fine, the other 25%), then replied, “Seriously, Andy. We can’t bring the laptop to the living room? That was a good game.”
And so we had both the emotional and practical sides of my brain lamenting about my overall error in judgement. (I find it interesting that my brain never seems to find fault in itself in these matters. It’s much easier to simply cast fault at me.)
And this is why the NFL wins. This is why the NFL will always win.
Yes, the league was on strike because the owners and players needed to figure out a better way to split ALL THE FREAKING PROFITS they are making. And all the fans cared about was how it was going to affect their Fantasy Football draft.
Over in the NBA, you have a different story. You legitimately have owners losing money because they have to pay out the remaining 4 years and 40 million dollars on contracts to guys who get too fat to run up and down the floor and would rather collect their paychecks from a villa at The Palms.
The NFL is the only sport around with this kind of marketing.
1) I sign up for a Fantasy Football League out of habit and as an excuse to to stay in touch with my old friends.
2) On a random Thursday night, while working, I keep the score on in the background, to follow how my opponent’s players are doing.
3) As the score of the actual game gets close, I go upstairs to watch.
4) As the game ends, I think, “Damn, I should have watched that whole thing, and all the commercials.”
5) I go write a blog post about why the NFL is so smart.
Now, you could say, “They got lucky. It could have been 42-7 and you wouldn’t have cared.”
And I would reply – “But that doesn’t happen in the NFL. The NBA would have made sure it was LA vs New York in the opening game, and it might have been 120-80. But the NFL took the 52nd largest market vs the 71st biggest market and put them out there. Which they can do since the 71st market has the reigning Super Bowl champs and both teams have QB’s that you wish you had as brothers in law.”
A conspiracy theorist would say it’s rigged. And maybe it all is. But if it is, somehow the guys writing the NFL scripts cut their chops on Lost, Weeds and Entourage, while the NBA guys were banging out Alf, Brothers and Melrose Place (the new one, not the old one).
Now this may seem like a rant against the NBA, but it’s not. Major League Baseball has almost worked their way into the irrelevance once relished by the NHL. And each now is able to claim a rabid, but niche, fan base that can’t compete head to head. And while soccer is growing, it’s TV viewership still only appeals to people who “get” why 0-0 can be exciting.
So I’d say you have the NFL leading the way, with NCAA football doing everything it can to screw up the halo the NFL provides it. Then the NBA who is arrogant enough to deny it has a problem. Then the other 3 leagues begging for attention.
But at the end of the day, for the forseeable future, the NFL is going to dominate the mind of the rabid, casual and indifferent sports fan. From revenue channels, to marketing, to PR, to labor, to organizational structure, it’s an absolute study in how to build a successful business.