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Burns & Gambo

Updated Feb 7, 2012 - 3:37 pm

Many factors contribute to popularity of NFL

So, 111 million people watched the Super Bowl. That’s not
a
surprise when you realize the popularity of the National
Football League.

It has long been debated as to why the
NFL reigns supreme over other sports with many people
believing that fantasy football was the driving force
along with gambling. But I’m not buying that. Sure,
they’re a factor, probably big ones, but I truly believe
the reason that the NFL is so much more popular now than
my favorite sport — baseball — is because of our
attention span. Yes, our attention span. We as a society
have a hard time following a 162 or 82-game schedule. We
love the NFL because for the most part, it
occupies our time just once per week for about 20 weeks.
We have no issues dedicating 4 or 8 hours on a Sunday to
the sport then not watching another game for another week.
Sure, there are Monday nights and soon to be every
Thursday
night, but once a week on a day most people have off gets
the job done in the NFL. It doesn’t in baseball,
basketball and hockey where following those sports
requires daily attention.

In the day and age of hundreds and hundreds of television
channels, there are far more options now then ever before
on the tube. Televisions are gigantic and come with
surround sound and high defnition capability, making the
viewing experience that much
better. When I was a kid growing up, we had one television
in the house, you had maybe 12 channels to choose from and
if you wanted to change the channel or the volume you had
to get your butt off the couch and go change it by hand.
No remote control. And for the most part you focused on
your local teams, although Cubs games were always on WGN
from what I remember.

Today any sports fan, anywhere, can
watch whatever game they want. But now you also can watch
movies on your own television without leaving the house to
rent them. There are more options for entertainment then
ever before and some of those options outweigh the desire
to watch professional baseball, basketball or hockey. Most
people can name 3-5 televisions shows that are on during
the week. I’m not sure anyone can tell us what is on
Sunday afternoon besides football!

Football moves fast and satisfies our need for violence.
It is played in front of packed houses which make the
viewing experience, both in person and on television,
great. The vast majority of players are from the United
States, all of them speak English and many of them we
watched in college because college football is extremely
popular. We know Tom Brady went to Michigan, Peyton
Manning went to Tennessee, Eli Manning went to Ole Miss,
Aaron Rogers played at Cal, Cam Newton went to Auburn,
Andrew Luck went to Stanford etc… We can relate to these
players better than we can do European basketball players
or basketball players who most spent one year in college,
Latin baseball players and European hockey players.

Look, there is no one answer for why the NFL is so
popular. There are many reasons. But I do believe our
attention span is shorter today then in past generations
for obvious reasons of the technology era — Facebook,
Twitter, iPhones, iPads, iTunes, text messaging, Pandora,
Skype, Xboxes, hundreds of television shows, etc.

We can concentrate on one game a week a lot better than we
can concentrate on one game every day for six months

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