Monday, January 21, 2008

NFL Excitement- Deliberate Awesomeness


We are in the final stages of one of the greatest seasons in National Football League history:
  • A team threatens to go 19-0 for the first time ever.
  • Tom Brady and Randy Moss set single season records respectively for their TD prowess.
  • Brett Favre has a career year at 38, breaking career marks every week and telling everyone how much fun he's having.
  • Green Bay is relevant again and the bikini ladies don't mind the weather. New York, Dallas, Boston, bring LA back and put them in the playoffs and you have the perfect storm.
  • Tony Romo's doing the nasty with Jessica Simpson. (Stop talking about the vacation people)
  • Pacman Jones is making it rain at some joint far away from the NFL (NFL's new image policy being warmly received).
  • Vick is put to jail.
Okay, so the last three are more dubious than great. But the real reasons I just stated make this year memorable. Outside of these great feats, the NFL playoffs have been the usual great success.

Why is NFL football so exciting, and how can we apply its success to ultimate?

I'm not implying that Ultimate is anywhere near the position to try and compete with pro sports. However, given the amount of money we all spend play competitive ultimate, we might want to look at anything that builds up the sport and adds revenue to leagues/groups/teams.

Here are some of the things I think the NFL does well, that we can learn from
  • Every year, we know when the NFL plays, where they play, and where to find it.
  • Like a great co-ed or multi division tournament (Clambake plug right here), the NFL game is an experience. The tailgate party, the costumes, the characters. Should we expect to have both the experience of the fun tournament with the best teams? It seems like a hard balance, but unfortunately we seem to be experiencing a divide in the fun/competitive tourney. I hate having to choose a good tourney like Cazenovia over fun tourneys like Northern Flights.
  • You know it's going to be a 16 game regular season. 162 game regular seasons in baseball is an example of a sport that overextends itself.
  • Further to being overextended, ultimate finds itself (for reasons of geography, cost, egos) with far too many tournaments occurring at the same time. It is only at nationals that the best face off.
  • Needless to say, the NFL is a marketing machine that has huge TV contracts. Far below this stratosphere, sports like Ultimate are relying on Ultivillage and little else to document and showcase. Could we not be doing more to get the game on TV/ Internet stream/ etc. The answer is yes.
  • The NFL goes to great length to understand their sponsors and partners, and to cater to them. They understand that sport sponsorship is no longer philanthropic. What's the benefit ratio to your team/league/tourney sponsors? This is the kind of thing good partners want to hear from you.
  • The NFL pays a lot of money to secure the right people for the right job. For every thousand volunteers at Super Bowl, a person at the top is highly paid for a reason. In ultimate, we let politics and the volunteer concept get in the way. Is it a case of people being burned by paying bad people in the past? Maybe. However, there are ways to ensure compensation reflects performance.
  • The NFL shares. Money and resources.
At one point in time, american football was a break away sport from rugby, growing through colleges and universities. Sound familiar doesn't it? These things take time and the right people, but it's nice to have benchmarks and great examples to learn from.

Those are some of my ramblings.. feel free to jump in...

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