Why Do We Care About Football?

from Seth’s Blog

For someone outside the US, the visceral connection with football seems mysterious. You can understand a lot about the future (and past) of marketing once you understand how the sport turned into a cultural touchstone.

Tribes -> TV -> Money  -> Mass -> TV -> Tribes

Football as we know it started in colleges. It was an epic muddy battle, pitting one alma mater against another, a war-like, non-balletic battle that united (at a pretty elemental level) the tribes on each side. As it grew as a college sport, it became as much of a social event as a sporting one, with alumni and students finding connection around a game.

But if that’s all it was, today wouldn’t be the biggest day of the year for several industries. If that’s all it was, you wouldn’t be able to pick a fight merely by challenging the hegemony of football or the local team. We’d be spending as much time and energy on soccer or lacrosse or basketball, but we don’t.

More here.

15 Responses to Why Do We Care About Football?

  1. Anthony Scotti February 12, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

    It is safe to say that Football has become Americas center piece of sports. The most people watch football, it brings in more revenue than any other professional sport, and it is simply the best sport to watch. Football isn’t like baseball that can take up to 4 hours in length and not having to do something on every play. Football you are always moving around and have very little time to think about the play happening. Even though football may bring in the most money and be the most televised sport, the one thing that it is also very well known for is its injuries. Concussions have been the topic of conversation for the last few years. The NFL and college football are doing everything possible to make the game safer. The NFL has made kick off returns shorter so that there are more touchbacks to eliminate the high speed hits with players running at max speed from both sides of the field.

    Every super bowl us football fans always look forward to the super bowl commericials. It is always an anticipated event and Is the reason why some people watch the super bowl to watch the funny, highly entertaining commercials. It also brings in a lot of money in from the super bowl and it also is usually a good laugh with whoever you are watching it with. This article talks about the people that are awre of the money situation and that we understand sometimes the money aspect of football and sometimes we don’t like to think about it because we love football so much but at the end of the day it is just like anything else it’s a business that a lot of people are interested in. For me I always wonder why the price tickets are so much money compared to other teams. Especially since that there are 2 New York teams playing in the same stadium you would think that tickets would be a lot less but they aren’t.

    Also there are a lot of bets that are involved in football which most are illegal that is another reason why people love football so much they rely on football to make them a profit and when they don’t come up with the results they are looking for they will bet again because the hype that football has and what it has at stake with them. Fantasy football is also another hot commodity when it comes to football. When FanDuel and Draft kings were shut down in some states because they didn’t consider that to be a skill they considered it that you just have to be lucky at it. I believe that there is no problem with fantasy football if someone wants to gamble here money away on a fanasty football game then so be it let them do that. Not only if football entertaining people anymore in this country but it is evolving into a super natural business that will be successful for a while

  2. B.U. April 9, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    In regards to Seth’s comments, I can agree and disagree on a few points. First of all, Football is clearly Americas largest and most famous sport. The more you travel across the globe, “American” football isn’t as popular. Here in America, it is extremely popular. During football season, the NFL can boldly say that they own a day of the week because of how popular it is. (Sunday) Most if not all of us have played football at some point in our lives. It starts young, and as you get older, you come to appreciate watching players go from high school, to college and maybe even play professionally. There is nothing we look forward to more than to come home from work and watch Monday night football, or simply enjoy our final weekend day on Sunday by lounging around and watching football literally all day. It never gets old. Its a violent sport with lots of action and excitement. Who could want more?
    Now, in regards to Seth, I agree with his point of that football and there NFL are made for TV. And its true, the NFL makes millions off of televised and secondary advertising deals. Either its team sponsorship logos all over the field in order to be seen on tv, or even having certain networks cover the games. Everyone watches football, and they take advantage of the fact millions of Americans love to watch football. A perfect example is the playoffs and especially Super Bowl Sunday. Who in their right mind WOULDNT watch the Super Bowl. Its all that day is meant for. Cooking out, partying and watching the game. To tie in with this, even if you don’t like football, are you going to say you won’t watch the game, KNOWING that all of the best commercials of the year are shown during the game. Hell, people actually look forward to commercials for one in their life. The bottom line is, football is made for TV, and I couldn’t agree more.
    What I don’t agree with is that Seth states that watching a game on tv is better than watching the game in person. Well, let me tell you, sitting in a stadium of roughly 100 thousands drunk fans, screaming their heads off and seeing and hearing helmets smack and players get destroyed on a field is certainly something that people look forward too. Its not just the game, rather the atmosphere as well. Just simply being there and watching the game first hand is better than anything. The only way I would disagree is if your seat are so high up you can even read the numbers on the jerseys, let alone have a gust of wind blow you over the edge as you fall 2 minutes to your death.

  3. Gianna Prosperi April 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Football is a major part of an American’s everyday life. This generation has taken the sport to another level. Football has turned into a television sensation across the nation. The author mentions that, “Football was made for TV” and I could not agree more. There is only an average of 12-15 minutes of actual game time per game and yet we still can’t get enough. The rest of the time is used for commercial breaks. This is great for advertising new products to a wide and global market. During the Super Bowl, companies will pay crazy and ridiculous prices for a 30 second commercial to air their new product to every single person watching that game. It is said to be the most watched show ever in America. This is a lucrative market, and companies take advantage, if they have the funds to advertise on this big of a scale.

  4. Amanda Crimarco April 9, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Football is so much bigger than just a sport in America. Although not everyone is going to support football as avidly as others, I’d bet that majority of the people you talk to would know what the “Super bowl” is. It creates such hype that it is hard to live in America and not know what football is. Growing up in a house with both my dad and my brother being huge football fans, consequently I became one and so I am able to understand all that goes into the sport of football. Reading this article and being able to understand where football actually originated from and how it grew into what it is today was extremely interesting. Football has become a business as well as a way of life for some people. The amount of money the National Football League makes just on commercials, aside from everything else is unbelievable. I believe that this is a great way to make money and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon in the near future. It is crazy to think that something that started out as such a simple game was able to turn into something iconic.

  5. TJK April 9, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

    Football is apart of our nation. It brings people together and gives cities a face of identity. I am a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and also a fan of the game of football after playing myself for 11 years. The biggest disagreement I have with this article is that the author says football is better on TV then live. Football in person is an experience unlike anything else. Waking up early to go tailgate and eat hoagies and cheesesteaks with other fans dressed head to toe in green is a great start to a great day. The environment in the stadium and camaraderie among fans is no match for sitting on your couch. Being at the game is why there are so many sellouts and crazy fans that show up every week to cheer their team on. While the revenue side of football has gotten out of hand I believe that there are still many of us that stick with the integrity of the game. I also disagree with the point that it is the exploitation of college football players. These players receive the opportunity of a lifetime to play for big time programs and receive all these benefits that come with playing football at the collegiate level. Football isn’t going anywhere in our country, it provides and outlet to many and a sense of pride to our nation on the whole.

  6. C. Goodwin April 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    Why do we care about football? We care about football because it takes some of America’s traditions and values of sports, competition, business and comradery and turns it into a staple and benign distraction from the hardships of the world. Football is an interactive form of entertainment that has people from all over the country bonding over alliances and playful rivalries. Football has something in it for everyone, whether you are a diehard fan of a team, you are in it for the commercials during super bowl or if you are a business owner looking at a huge medium to advertise in, football has facets that can appeal to everyone. If you compare other countries and their love for their version of football (known as Soccer in the USA) it’s almost parallel how passionate and intense the topic gets in other countries as well. Football over the years has become synonymous with the word America. A day of the week is basically dominated purely by football. Why football became America’s favorite sport and not soccer like the rest of the world, I’m unsure of. But I know that it is more than a spectator sport, it’s an active sport that businessmen partake in on a yearly basis and make millions.

  7. Mario Raccuglia April 9, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

    I like football. Baseball is my favorite sport because I just think it is a better overall game and I played it my whole life. From pee-wee football to the nfl football is emboldened into our society for many years to come. It of course is most prevalent on television mainly in the NFL where the revenues are absolutely out of control giving the nfl an incredible amount of power. Football is a brutal sport and takes a toll on players’ health, however if you ask most former players they would do it all over again. There have been plenty of lawsuits that the NFL has made out much better on than that of the NFL players union because the players do not mean more than the team or brand of the league. It is not lie the NBA which is built on superstars. Yes there are many superstars that are in the NFL, but during a game there is so much downtime to focus on a lesser player and make them well-known. The NCAA is not as big as the NFL but their profit margin is almost as great, remember they do not have to employ players. Most large division one schools get their money from their football programs being successful. There is a lot of shady business within the NCAA just like the NFL, but they are so big they can do whatever they want.

  8. Christian Alvarado April 9, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

    I am a really big baseball fan and that is my favorite sport, but football is my next favorite sport. Even though it is way different than the other sports this sport is interesting because there is a lot of physical play (with tackling runners/quarterback) and quickness. In my opinion, this is the quickest sport that is around. By being able to read something about football is important because by being able to care about this sport and being able to watch all of the commercials about it is interesting because there is so much good stuff to know about this game. That is why I like football (but not better than baseball)!

  9. Julian Manzano March 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    Football has become the most popular sport in America, and because of that, it has become the sport that produces the most revenue by far. Even with all the controversy that has surrounded the NFL throughout the years, the NFL has not only continued to stay relevant, but it has thrived, producing billions of dollars in revenue every year. This is because controversy makes for great TV, and it is also because football is presented in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to most Americans. The combination has made football such a pleasing sport to watch on TV. It makes us viewers feel like we are close to the game, and with the loud noises and clear HD picture, we feel like we are actually at the game. Both the game itself and advertising is what makes the NFL such a successful brand and it is what makes football a hallmark game in America.
    The game of football, to most people, is a very fun and entertaining game. The downside of it, is that it is a dangerous game, but people still continue to play it and dedicate their lives to it. Not only does the game of football interest people, it is the presentation that attracts viewers. The aesthetic of the games are what attracts millions of viewers, the formula the NFL uses is perfect for the game. Multiple camera angles, clear cut sound on the field, clear picture, and multiple visuals and graphics are what keeps viewers into the game. It also seems like the danger of the game interests us too, every time there is a big hit, we get even more into the game. As a football fan myself, I am guilty of this, but it is inevitable to not get excited by the game, as it is very interesting to watch.
    The advertising is also a huge factor in the NFL’s revenue. Companies pay huge amounts of money to be advertised during NFL games. Super Bowl advertisements have also become a spectacle in themselves during the huge game. Companies pay millions just for a mere 30 second slot during breaks in the game. Companies’ commercials then go viral and bring loads of attention to their product. Therefore, paying a lot of money to advertise in the Super Bowl works as a win-win for both the NFL and the company advertising. This is probably where the NFL gets most of their money, through advertising.
    The formula the NFL has worked with through the years has proven to be very effective in creating popularity and revenue for the sport. I believe the NFL will follow the popular phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as the NFL continues to make billions off their product. I expect the NFL to continue to flourish as a company and I am excited to continue to watch football. Go Jets!

  10. Taylor Salomon March 17, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    If your favorite team lands a spot in Superbowl Sunday, then football fans are in for a treat. Although football has two different meanings, in America, football is a top favored sport. Families and friends gather around the living room to indulge in good eats as well as great sports entertainment. The big question that this article circulates around is why doe we care about football. Before diving into the article’s reason as to why, let’s hear from student Lawrence Feltz. He is a proud football fan. He relies on television to enhance his football experience. He states “football’s oval stadim is perfect for TV. The TV offers a perpetually moving foreground and takes us wherever the ball is. In football, each action is the result of eleven men acting simultaneously against eleven other men. TV also gives us playbacks and “necessary” information. The $9 billion received by the NFL has a lot to do with our culture. Football is American. It is also like war and it converts men into heroes. Football uses war language like trap, zone, bomb, trenches, etc. We are no better than the ancient Romans being entertained at the Coliseum.” That is an interesting analogy- football and war. Typically, football is enjoyed but men, however females also engage interest as well. Female student Amanda Crimarco included her interactions with football. She grew up in a household where both her dad and brother were huge football fans, so it was natural that she fell in love with the sport as well. She states “football is so much bigger than just a sport in America. Although not everyone is going to support football as avidly as others, I’d bet that majority of the people you talk to would know what the “Super bowl” is. It creates such hype that it is hard to live in America and not know what football is.” I couldn’t agree more with her. Unless you are from Europe, then football is referred to as soccer, but here in America football does not include a soccer ball. I am a sports fanatic. I love all sports but on a different level. Student TJK feels the same way. He describes the sport as apart of our nation that brings people together and gives cities a face of identity. Without sports, would strangers be united on common ground? It is hard to tell. The article talks about football in a different sense though. It states how it is accident prone and generates millions of dollars. As football became the official sport of television, it generated billions of dollars in revenue which led advertisers to push for more football also leading to more television which colleges transformed football from a small sideline into a “cash of some focus despite the fact that it has very little to do with the core mission of the institution”. A valid point the article brings up is this sport allows students to receive an education while paying the sport they love. However, scholarships aren’t for playing football, it is for appearing on TV. Depending on who is asked this question, you will get different responses as to who cares about football. In the world of entertainment, it unites families and friends as well as corporations and TV.

  11. Adis Hoti November 17, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Seth’s writing about why we care about football drew my attention. I have always wondered why football is so important in America. What has been the reason why people like football more than soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. Football is exciting but so are all other sports. Football is also dangerous so I would have assumed that parents would forbid their kids from playing. Instead of forbidding their kids from playing, parents encourage their kids to play Americas sport. Football has always been that sport where fans get most rowdy and passionate. Fans would go all out for high school, college, and NFL games. Fans tailgate, host parties (usually for the playoffs, but more specifically for the super bowl), and attend games.
    In my opinion, I believe that Americans love football because of the violence and danger that comes with it. Two teams lining up against each other and hitting the opposing team all game long is war like. “It was an epic muddy battle, pitting one alma mater against another, a war-like, non-balletic battle that united (at a pretty elemental level) the tribes on each side. As it grew as a college sport, it became as much of a social event as a sporting one, with alumni and students finding connection around a game.” Fans love this sport because two teams clash up against each other and are literally going to war. Fans take pride in where they are from so if I am a New York fan, I want my team to dominate New England. It is about bragging rights and shows who is truly better. Dominating opposing cities is a great look for the city. Showing how much stronger, talented, and explosive we are compared to them. It is a sport that fires people up after a big catch, huge run, explosive play and big hit.
    I played both football and baseball in high school. I was not very good at football but I was a star baseball player. I have thrown two career no hitters in high school, and both times the feeling was incredible. As incredible of a feeling it was, making a huge tackle in football was much more electrifying. The crowd comparison is far off, the baseball cheers were loud but did not compare to the football cheers. There is just something about putting the other team down that fires up the fans. I love baseball but football has always been far more interesting to watch and to be a part of. Fans worship football players.
    My bets comparison of football is the Greek age. Two power houses going head to head like the Trojans vs. Spartans. Teams struggle sometimes but the team who develops the better plan comes out victorious. You can have stars, but it is all about who is smarter and what strategies are put into place. The same goes with football. Now that war is frowned upon and mostly all ammo, with no manly fighting, football is the next best thing. War used to fire up the men back in the day. They were all warriors that were ready to take on the world and perform for their people. Same goes for football, players want to give the fans something to be proud of.

  12. Chris O'Handley November 17, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

    This article was interesting because it focused on how football, especially nowadays, is really all about money. The National Football League essentially owns a day of the week as millions of Americans tune in on Sunday’s to see how all of the teams across the league fare in their match-ups. And right before that on Saturday colleges from all over the country play in their own games. In the prime of football season there are enough games going on weekends that you could spend your entire day watching. That is exactly what is so unique about football. It really is built for television. Going to games is a lot of fun because you get to tailgate and get to be in the atmosphere of the crowd but often times you do not get as good a view of the game as you would on television. On top of that, there are a ton of stoppages in football. Most live plays last for only a few seconds and then take around 30 seconds for the next play to be called. Games last for around three hours but at the end if you add up all the time spent in live action it amounts to only a few minutes. That is why football really is a game made for television. The relationship between the two is pretty interesting. Like Seth says, the two grew up together and as one became more popular so did the other. Thirty second commercials fit in perfectly with the countless stoppages that occur over the course of a game. Advertisements are as large a part of football as the actual game being played. There are many people who watch the Super Bowl just to see the commercials not even caring about the game. Yet even the people who are watching for the game are usually intrigued by the commercials. After all since they are such a large part of the game and appear so often the average fan has to get used to them. This is the biggest reason why the NFL became a billion dollar organization and why they are where they are now. The amount of revenue they make from sponsors is astounding. The same goes for college football. Schools and the NCAA make so much money from sports that they have become a focal point at many schools even though that is not the main purpose of college. Scholarships are rewarded far more often to athletes instead of students because athletes will generate more revenue for the university. As long as people continue to tune in and watch football games, the NFL and NCAA as well as all the advertising companies will continue to reach millions of people and make a huge sum of money because of it.

  13. Colby Richardson October 4, 2019 at 10:16 pm #

    Without a doubt American Football has become one of the biggest things in American culture today. Once football season starts, every Sunday leading up to the Super bowl is dedicated to football. The sport is big for two reasons. One being that it generates a ton of money from the amount of views it has. But more importantly, it brings friends and families together. Many people can relate that on Sundays that they are with friends and family eating fun foods such as Buffalo wings. Now focusing in on the money aspect, millions of people watch football. So advertising premiums during these games goes up. Any commercial that is played is going to cost a company more due to the fact that there will be millions of people watching. The most costly commercial happen during the Super Bowl. This is the main event of the year and it draws attention across the world. It is amazing to think that this sport started off as something small. Just a game that rivals played in school. In which the winner would have bragging rights. No money was made or lost. But now, the players get paid millions of dollars.
    Now football offers two experiences. Either you can watch it at home on TV or live in a stadium. Each offers two different perspectives. Being in person, you can feel the emotions in the atmosphere. It gives a great feeling to be there. Before the game, people tailgate and spend time enjoying the day. At home on the tv, it gives a more in depth perspective. The way the camera can focus in on the game is amazing. It is easy to see and follow the game. With the help of commentators to talk about the game as it progress and the help of visual aids. It makes the home experience a lot better. I personally prefer watching it at home due to the fact of all of the extra things that come along with watching at home. But the feeling at being at a game is also amazing. Some fans go to every game since they are so dedicated. Doesn’t matter the weather, they still go. This game has completely changed American history and it will continue to be a staple event in the United States.

  14. Zachary Crockett December 6, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

    I love how Seth points out how important the relation between football and television is. In most sporting events the live atmosphere and in-person experience drive the game. Although, football games very well fo indeed have a monumental and exciting atmosphere, especially today as the most popular American sport, there is something about watching it from the comfort of your home. Football is actually a very slow sport but in moments of action moves very fast. There is almost a drive of excitement between plays, timeouts and quarters that makes the fan sitting at the edge of their seat tremble. All in all, football is not just a popular sport because of the gladiator-like environment, but because of how perfect the match is between itself and modern technology.

  15. Anthony Freda December 6, 2019 at 8:36 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading this article. The article is 6 years old and shows the game of football is still growing across our nation. Football season has become a staple of the fall and winter months. The brisk air, high energy, fast motion game that attracts our country. Today, football and television go hand in hand. Prime time games on national television 4 nights out of the week, and millions of viewers each week. The industry of football has greatly increased the start of the Super Bowl era (1967) and continues to grow. The average price for a commercial during the 2019 super bowl being a whopping $5 million for a 30 second time slot. Close to 100 million viewers tuned into watch the ever so boring New England Patriots take on the Rams from LA. The same old boring New England Patriots were playing in yet another Super Bowl, but 100 million people tuned in to watch because this country loves the game of football.

    I think what attracts our attention to football is the hard hitting, fast pace of them game. Very rarely during the game is there something not occuring, and each and every play call can determine the outcome of the game. One thing that I do wish to dispute is the author stating that no other sports will ever have a run like football is having right now (in terms of TV cash). The MLB makes far superior money throughout the season than the NFL does. This can be due to the fact that almost 10x more games are played by MLB players than NFL players, but MLB players salaries are so much higher. I don’t want to compare sports markets to one another because it is so hard to compare but it was worth mentioning. I think our country will continue to grow its love for football especially with the XFL arriving again in 2020. The rearrival of the XFL may prompt more love for football in American and globally.

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