The NFL is America’s most popular game. It is also one of the most high-value sporting events in the world. The NFL beats several competitors like baseball and basketball to attract fans and influence American culture.
Football betting is also highly popular, with bettors keeping an eye on NFL point spreads and top picks.
However, how did the NFL turn out to be America’s favorite sport? Is it the excitement on the fields? Or, is the sport famous because friends and family can get together and have a great time?
The truth is pretty amazing and may not be what you expect. So, here is how the NFL became the top game in the USA.
The Origins of American Football
Football was nothing more than a college sport in the 1800s. Students would play football while studying or after they graduated for a few years. Moreover, football was restricted to the working class of the population. So, the extravaganza we see in Super Bowls was not even imaginable.
Football got some recognition when Princeton University and Rutgers University introduced it at the collegiate level in 1869. The game’s early form drew inspiration from soccer and rugby, but new rules came into existence in 1882.
It was the beginning of the modern form of the NFL we see today.
The Early Days of the NFL
The beginning of the NFL was rather humble. Many teams promoted by businesses played for a few seasons and disappeared into oblivion. There were 46 such teams from 1920 to 1930, as per ESPN. The Akron Pros became the winner of the first league but survived only for 6 years.
Nobody thought football could turn into a billion-dollar business at that time. It was a pastime, and the thought of turning football into a profession didn’t exist. As a result, no one even imagined becoming a football player to earn money.
Moreover, there was a lack of any established business model. The franchises also struggled to survive, and the question of earning or distributing profits didn’t even arise.
However, things changed in 1960 when the owner of the New York Giants presented a suggestion to the NFL commissioner.
How the NFL Became Synonymous with America
The NFL realized it needed a new approach to making the game more popular. The organization used several clever techniques to make an impression and generate more buzz around football.
For example, a big change for the NFL came when the games started broadcasting on TV. The management of the NFL tailored the games in a way that they became more entertaining.
As a result, Americans could enjoy football sitting on their couches. It also meant families and friends could get together and spend quality time, a great American pastime.
TV broadcasting was significant for the NFL as they could now generate revenues and earn profits.
Another expert move by the NFL was prioritizing American values. People could easily connect with the game and even loved every part of the matches and the show. They even looked forward to high-competition matches and would bet on the outcomes.
Lastly, sports almost became a religion for Americans during the 1960s and 1970s. While we experienced the growth of the hippie culture, TVs were also becoming more popular.
The NFL was quick to act and make the most of the medium to reach fans right at their homes. Baseball or basketball federations didn’t have the vision to leverage TV to increase their fan base.
From 2006 to 2007, 12 out of the top 20 top-rated TV programs were NFL matches.
However, the NFL still didn’t have a viable business model. The profits were restricted to the hands of a few franchises, while most teams were far from self-sustenance.
But things were about to change.
Sharing of Income – A Robust Business Model
The revenues earned from TV were not passed down the chain equally. Most franchises found it hard to survive or even pay the players, while a few enjoyed the profits.
Pete Rozelle, the commissioner of the NFL in 1960, met with the owner of the Giants, Wellington Mara. Rozelle suggested sharing the profits from the broadcasting revenues between teams instead of only franchises.
It was a tough decision for the Giants, who earned the most from the broadcasting profits. Yet, Mara decided to go along with Rozelle and agreed to share the profits equally.
It was an important move that changed the future of the NFL. Dollars started flowing into the organization, and the distribution of wealth became equal.
Today, several NFL franchises have crossed the value of $1 billion, and many teams are making their way up to the amount. Moreover, the NFL is among the top brands to acquire the highest-paid TV rights ever in the history of broadcasting.
Till 2013, the NFL has signed over $23.9 billion in TV rights. It also earns revenues from the sale of tickets, and the stadiums topped with 90% attendance in 2006. That led the NFL to generate $5.8 billion as league revenue.
The Super Bowl is another high-value event that generates billions of dollars.
Money, Parity of Wealth, and Emotions
The strategies used by the NFL to make football America’s favorite sport are suited for anyone who wants to start a business. The organization relied on the emotions of the Americans and focused on the right medium to popularize the game and penetrate every household.
The NFL also worked hard to instill the sport into American culture and life. As a result, the sports directly appealed to the emotions of fans and viewers.
Moreover, the management realized the need to bring parity in the distribution of wealth. It gave inspiration to teams and players to take up football as a viable career.
Other sports did not have the approach or strategies to create the same impact.
The story of the NFL is pretty interesting. You may not even know the facts we disclosed, even if you are a big fan of the sport. We will always aim to bring you such interesting pieces.