By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 4/22/10
It’s baseball season. So why is everyone still talking about the NFL?
Former Houston Oilers Head Coach, Jerry Glanville, once claimed the NFL stands for, “Not For Long.” These days, the National Football League has more lasting power than ever. It’s been nearly three full months since the New Orleans Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, yet football continues to be top of mind for most sports fans. Why?
The NFL has successfully turned the most innocuous league-related occurrences into “must-see” events. What other professional sports league can create a buzz around the release of their upcoming schedule? This past Tuesday, media outlets were alerted of the impending football calendar announcement to occur at 7:00 PM sharp, strategically leaking a few of the marquee matchups in the hours leading up to it. The next morning, fans around the country were playing the ever popular “WLWLWL Game” with their co-workers and friends, sparking heated water cooler debate.
Tonight, the NFL takes center stage once again. The 2010 NFL Draft will make a weekday appearance, and will do so under prime time’s hot lights. This annual roster replenishment affair is often over-analyzed, contains little action, and drags on for hours, yet, few NFL fans will miss it. Fans are so trained to hang on every NFL-related word, they’d probably watch paint dry if Chad Ochocinco were the one doing the painting.
Every morsel of NFL activity is precious, something fans should cherish…at least that’s the way the league portrays it…and why not? Their product is unique, exciting, contains some of the biggest stars in the sports world, and is extremely limited in nature.
While leagues like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association schedule never-ending 162 and 82-game seasons respectively, NFL teams only play 16 contests per year. That’s it. Each game is so meaningful, and is analyzed and promoted as individual events, rather than single games that make up a larger season.
An NFL Sunday is a holiday, a sacred day full of rituals that include face painting, jersey wearing, tailgating, chest bumps and fist pounds. The final Sunday of the season, Super Bowl Sunday, is so big it needs two full weeks of hype leading up to it.
Fantasy football has also added to the game’s development in recent years, giving fans across the nation reason to watch out-of-market games and follow players they would otherwise have no interest in watching. Other new technologies including Facebook and Twitter, are meticulously used by league personnel, and players, to keep fans informed, and well connected to all breaking league news. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell operates his own Twitter account.
The league’s relationship with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is another marketing tool working in their favor. Each season, an NFL franchise is featured throughout training camp, granting curious fans exclusive access into the locker room, team meetings, and after-hour activities. The show gives fans a better understanding of how a team functions, and brings them closer to some of the game’s biggest stars.
The NFL’s focused marketing strategies have its popularity rising at an alarming clip. They have embraced technology and used it to further infiltrate their fans’ lives. Face it, the NFL is everywhere, all the time. There is no off-season anymore for the nation’s most popular sport. For now, baseball is America’s Pastime. But, Not For Long.
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