The Power Of The National Football League
We have known for more than a generation now that football, and especially the National Football League (NFL) is America's National Pastime. The television ratings prove it.
This upsets some hardcore (and maybe myopic) baseball fans, but sometimes the truth hurts. Football is more popular than baseball in America.
We're really seeing that now with the success of the Detroit Lions this season. And to a slightly lesser extent, Michigan football, who won college football's National Championship earlier this month.
The interest in the NFL drowns out almost everything else that occurs in sports in the fall and winter. NASCAR, golf, tennis, the NBA, and NHL are relegated to the backburner of the American sports consciousness.
It's even affected the Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series. So much so that MLB has had to alter its postseason schedule so as not to interfere with NFL games as much as possible. These days, regular season NFL games get better TV ratings than World Series games. Something that was unthinkable in the 1980's. When the free agent signing period begins in March, it shares the main stage with the NCAA Basketball Tournaments. And now the NFL Draft shares the stage with the start of the MLB season as well as the NBA Playoffs and the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NFL's offseason has even pushed their way into the American sports scene. With the annual NFL combine in February, the aforementioned free agent signing period, and then the NFL Draft (which is in Detroit this year) in late April. You can talk football almost the entire year. And I'm not even counting the now-merged USFL-XFL venture, the United Football League (UFL). There will be people that watch that, too.
In my 12 seasons working for the Lansing Lugnuts at Jackson Field, I have seen as many NFL jerseys (if not more) as MLB jerseys. I've seen jerseys from all 32 NFL teams at the ball park. Just name a team, and I'll give you the jersey(s) I've seen. Not just Lions jerseys, ALL 32 NFL teams. I find that amazing.
And it isn't just men that watch, either. The popularity of the NFL with women has grown, too. The league does a great job of promoting the game to women (Taylor Swift dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce doesn't hurt).
There are NFL fans everywhere. All over the world. Many NFL teams are now worldwide brands. People in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia know about the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, et al.
So if you hear a baseball fan say "We're still America's National Pastime." Just tell them they're full of it. America is a football nation. And it isn't changing anytime soon.
Deal with it.