In my book Taking Your Team To The Top I discuss the importance of maintaining EXCELLENCE in the wake of SUCCESS. I used the analogy of the construction of the great dams of the world;
“Great teams functioning in any capacity are like the great dams of the world. They are built with the best materials, reinforced to the very core of their construction, constantly inspected and monitored with the highest standards, and able to manage multiple levels of productive service. But like the Ivanovo Dam, one small crack, just one tiny breach in excellence of operations, can cause cataclysmic failure. That is, if the crack goes unchecked.
Teams that allow poor performance, mismanaged leadership, or any of the other internal and external forces to tear away at its culture of excellence will undoubtedly develop cracks that will grow if left unchecked. Your team can either maintain excellence or find itself heading for failure. The larger the fracture, the greater the amount of resources in time, energy, and people it will take to repair the break. The potentially damaging forces normally held back by the strength of the team will find the weakness and relentlessly attack. Worst case scenario: your team will eventually break under the strain, the resulting deluge will wipe out years of sustained successful efforts, and you will be left to rebuild again from the ground up.”
NBA owner Mark Cuban, through recent remarks about the impending implosion of the NFL, appeared to liken the League’s future to that of a breach in the levy. Eventually the weight of overexposure would create more pressure than the NFL could bear. Patrick Schuster of FootballDialogue.net begs to differ with that premise and offers 5 points that he feels only strengthen the NFL’s ability to hold back its competition.
The Football Educator
One of the bigger news stories of the past week was the quote of Mark Cuban stating the NFL, in ten years, will be in trouble and implodes. I could not help but laugh that one of the best self-promoters in the country and an owner of an NBA team, felt he is the authority to make such a comment regarding football.
Most of the national media did their part and weighed in on the subject, and others took it step further, stating they agreed and felt the same way for years. Ironically the media knocked the NFL per Cuban’s comments, stating having games on other nights besides Sunday hurts the product. They seemed to miss the fact it still is a once a week event for fans and regardless if their team plays on Thursday, Sunday or Monday. Unlike other sports, an NFL team can only play once a week, so the value and importance of the game means a lot more than a season of 82 or a 162 games. NFL fans prioritize the games a lot more than they do with other sports.
Football is the perfect sport for the modern fan! With the pace of modern life, people can watch their team once a week and go about their business. Unlike the commitment other sports demands, if your NFL team plays Sunday, Thursday or Monday, fans clear their calendar, watch, and deal with the work week. The more passionate fans watch additional games, but even the casual fan can take three hours once a week and watch the NFL. The better question is while NFL ratings could dip from time to time, what other sport will come and knock it off the pedestal as America’s passion. Football and more specifically, the NFL is the perfect storm that crushes the other sports when it comes to TV ratings, merchandise sold, and overall popularity. Some reasons that have caused football to take over America are really simply if you think about.
Here are some of the more obvious reasons.
1. NCAA Football
Unlike NCAA basketball the best players play at least three years for their schools so the country gets to learn about them and root for them every Saturday. When the time comes for their jump to the next level, the fans already know all about their abilities. College sports have risen in popularity causing individual conference networks to be born, and no sport has helped these networks develop more than college football. Ironically those ratings for college basketball during the year are significantly less until the tournament, whereas college football does not see a rating drop until bowl season gets rolling in December. National signing day in college football has become as close to a national holiday as a college football fan gets, as it is much less scientific than the NFL Draft.
2. Time of Year
The football regular season runs from September to December, when most families are finished with their vacations for the year, are dealing with cooler weather and are indoors much more frequently, all helping the NFL to maintain such strong viewership. Remember the fall TV season starts in September, so the chances of people seeing information about the games increases. To the benefit of football, the absolute slowest time of year for football is from after the NFL Draft in May until the end of July. This allows fans to go outdoors, go on vacation and spend time away from football, as they know nothing is going on with it.
3. Fantasy Football
There are certainly fantasy sports, for all types of sports but nothing has the participation as much as fantasy football! It is a once a week event, even the casual fan can make twenty minutes a week to make a roster, move or set their lineups, and be done with it. It does not require day to day monitoring to have success in fantasy football. Being part of fantasy football also peeks interest in additional games for even the casual fan.
4. Home Theaters
The only metric that has fallen in fan interest in NFL games in recent years is attendance at the game. Fan attendance across the board for all sports is down due to the prices of tickets, parking, concessions and transportation to the game. This is made up when it comes to NFL TV ratings that dominate all other events. The real reason is pretty easy to figure out, it is a lot easier to build the great “man-cave” or sports room in your house with the best HDTV on the market, with the most comfortable recliners and your favorite pizza place on speed dial than it is to go to a game. No line for the restroom in your own basement, you don’t charge yourself $8 for a beer or hot dog. How about parking? Again, free to park in your own driveway. If you are a die-hard fan and don’t want to miss any game you can order the NFL Sunday Ticket and you are covered. Plus the ride home is no longer a concern, so no need to miss the second game because of a three hour car ride.
5. NFL Draft
With the popularity of college football, it is not uncommon to hear the story from people that, “I didn’t really have a favorite NFL team, but when they selected (insert any player), I started liking that team because he was on their team and I went to school Y.” Did you ever hear an MLB fan say “I didn’t like this team until they drafted player X from Stanford”. Most baseball fans do not watch college baseball nor even know when or where the MLB draft is held. Same holds true for the NBA Draft, where the best players leave after their freshmen year and except for the top five picks the remainder of the selections are far from locks. How often does a second round pick get cut in the NBA? How often has a second round pick not made an NFL roster?
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