Football Fiasco Is Big Business

In the spirit of the “Three L’s” (Look-Listen-Learn), let’s take a look at the wonderful world of football. Is it just me or does that phrase no longer describe our traditional Christmas to New Year’s past-time of watching bowl games? Believe it or not, there is a business connection here.

Obviously, an increasingly high number of business minds have identified a “cash cow” in the annual bowl battles. When I was young, we couldn’t wait until the end of the year to witness the customary “Big Four”—The Rose Bowl, The Orange Bowl, The Sugar Bowl, and The Cotton Bowl. In those days, we felt it was hard to keep track of them all. Little did we know that the “Big Four” would some day grow into the marathon of madness we witness today! However, apparently anyone with a product or service to sell saw tremendous potential in our devotion to the pigskin rivalries we currently follow from coast to coast. In addition, television networks have long been well aware of this potential money maker. This year there were 32 bowl games televised to feed our growing addiction, and don’t think for a minute that this offering was the result of our love for football. No indeed. It materialized from the love of money—advertising dollars to be more concise. Note the unpretentious names of the bowl games of old—Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Cotton. Compare that simplicity to what we had to choose from this past season, and I’m not fabricating one of these names:

  • San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
  • Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl
  • Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
  • Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
  • R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
  • PetroSun Independence Bowl
  • Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
  • Meineke Car Care Bowl
  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl
  • Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
  • MPC Computers Bowl
  • Papajohns.com Bowl
  • Champs Sports Bowl
  • Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
  • Toyota Gator Bowl
  • International Bowl
  • New Mexico Bowl
  • Capital One Bowl
  • Chick-fil-A Bowl
  • Motor City Bowl
  • Brut Sun Bowl
  • Emerald Bowl
  • Outback Bowl
  • GMAC Bowl
  • Insight Bowl
  • Alamo Bowl
  • Texas Bowl

Can you imagine someone calling you over the holiday break to ask what you’re doing? You’d have to say something like: “I’m just sitting here with some chips and a beer watching the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to be followed by the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl!” What are we becoming?

And they even butchered our “Fab Four” bowl games of yesteryear. They have become the Citi Rose Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl, and AT&T Cotton Bowl. All in the name of greed. Is nothing sacred? And there must be good money in chips today … the folks at Tostitos managed to add their name and logo to the Fiesta Bowl as well as the BCS Championship Game that would supposedly decide the best team in the nation. That must have cost them a pretty penny!

As competing TV networks have learned how to make money on even mediocre matchups, a winning record during the regular season is no longer a prerequisite for being picked. There were four teams that made it to a Bowl this year with a 6 win – 7 loss record! They lost more games than they won! There were 10 teams that made the grade with a 7 – 6 record! That’s not a whole lot better!

Some of these teams don’t come close to qualifying as your typical legendary power-house repeaters. When was the last time you read major headlines about the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, the New Mexico Lobos, The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Utah Utes, the East Carolina Pirates, the Rice Owls, the Maryland Terrapins, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the North Illinois University Huskies, the Troy Trojans, the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, the South Florida Bulls, the Houston Cougars, or the Boise State Broncos? They all reached bowl status this season. Come on, be honest. Nothing against any of these teams, players or coaches. I’m certain they all worked very hard this year. However, you can’t send EVERYBODY to a bowl game. It demeans the nature of the event. We may very well see bowl overload become a legitimate issue resulting in attendance and television viewership decline.

What’s all of this got to do with business and/or the “Three L’s” (Look-Listen-Learn)? There are lessons to be learned everywhere. For instance, from this year’s bowl season we now know:

  • You should keep your eye on current trends and cash in when and where you can.
  • You should recognize and take advantage of momentum.
  • You can market and promote just about anything. (6 wins and 7 losses?)
  • Never assume that any market is fully saturated.
  • Create a niche to stand out from the crowd.
  • Know your audience (customers) and give them what they want.

I’m sure there are other lessons here, but I’m too tired from watching all those bowl games to find them right now. Besides, basketball season is just picking up speed, and I’m running low on chips!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

One thought on “Football Fiasco Is Big Business

  1. Here’s my $.02 picking on the ‘down’ side of this post related to a quirk I have at the office ….

    Please understand that I am a “Football Mom” (it even says such on a sweatshirt I wear!) which simply means that I’m the mother of a 6’ 4”, 280# football player who is very passionate about the game, but I’m “football challenged”. That means that didn’t grow up in a football family and our small school never had a football program, therefore I have a less-than-average understanding of the game (that is prior to my son’s interest) and what all the hype is about. As a true-blue mom who is interested in just about anything within reason that her children are interested in, I gave it my best at learning what the hype is all about. I can honestly say that after 6 years of faithfully attending junior high and high school games, I do have a MUCH better understanding and appreciation of the sport. I can actually follow along, I understand why people all around me are standing and cheering (or yelling rude and obnoxious remarks) and the meaning of downs. I’ve also come to accept that there are many faithful fans who will endure freezing temperatures, sleet, hail, snow, rain, and sometimes even lightning for the love of the game (or the love of their children).

    I’m also a career woman and have observed countless delayed meeting start times in the office because meeting participants have to first discuss and relive the most recent games and events as though that’s a higher priority than getting started on time. It is unfortunate when “after the meeting” discussion includes frustrated comments from other meeting attendees who may actually have a desire to start on time and stick to the agenda for the purpose of being productive. I’ve even heard comments from attendees on the way TO the meeting that it won’t matter if they are late because they know that certain other attendees (who have a reputation) will first have to discuss sports and it won’t start on time anyway.

    Conversation can be a good thing as an ice-breaker and in the spirit of building relationships. Why is it, that the greater percent of time it seems to be limited to discussion of sports (not just football) events and to those certain individuals including key managers who are fanatics about sports? Do you ever wonder how much company time is wasted ‘around the water cooler’ or in private offices discussing sports, managing pools, etc?

    So what is my point? This is just another example of how this world of sports had inundated so many areas of our lives. At the same time as being appreciative and respectful of other individual’s interests, not everyone is interested in discussing sports or in wasting company time doing so. Many people are respectful of company time and want to be productive. How long would a meeting be delayed or would the tolerance be as great for discussion centered around other topics such as last night’s ballroom dance competition, baby shower, a basket party or other trivial non-sports topics?

    In a company that publishes guidelines for effective meetings that include starting on time and being productive, key managers should be sensitive to the guidelines and set a good example. Any effective meeting leader (regardless of their own interests and regardless of the topic be it sports related or not) will tactfully keep the group on target.

    One question for Harry K: You’re obviously very knowledgeable and have done your homework, but by the time I finished reading your post I wasn’t sure: “Are you still a football fan or not?!” Maybe you have just gone for chips…?

    Susan Jacobs
    From: West Unity (Somewhere in NW) Ohio

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