Super Bowl Media Day begins tomorrow January 28th at 9:30 AM CST. It will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Approximately 5,000 media members will be credentialed and if you don't work in the press corp, you can go by buying a ticket for $28.50.
Yes, I'm serious, people shell out close to 30 U.S. Dollars to watch reporters get into a swarm/gang bang/mosh pit style conglomerate of humanity; strictly for the purpose of hearing canned responses and cliches from highly paid NFL football players. Like Jim Cramer says, "there's always a bull market somewhere."
Lots of people watch Super Bowl Media Day; both on television and in person. Imagine the tremendous size of the swarm that will be around Richard Sherman at Super Bowl Media Day! Think about how many times you'll hear the same tired and predictable questions from reporters with zero original thoughts and no refreshing story angles:
"Peyton, what does this game mean to your legacy?"
"Richard, how do you feel you've been misunderstood by people these past ten days?
"(Any Seahawks player) Tell us about how important the 12th man is"
"(Any Broncos player) Tell us what makes Peyton so great"
ESPN NASCAR analyst Brad Daugherty told me at Chicagoland Speedway this past summer: "the NFL slaughters everything." Remember, this is a current NASCAR guy, and former NBA and college basketball guy talking. Certainly, Super Bowl Media Day, and Super Bowl Sunday itself, verify that observation. Sunday IS OUR national holiday.
A question I get all the time is "who is the biggest person you've ever interviewed?"
I always say "depends on what you're into. The answer is different for everybody."
Former Vice President Al Gore is the only person I've had an exclusive with who's won the popular vote of a U.S. Presidential election. Danica Patrick probably is the most popular, or at least the most polarizing, individual (see the avatar for this website), Dan Marino the most accomplished athlete. Sir Alex Ferguson is the most accomplished coach (think Phil Jackson and Casey Stengel combined of the English Premier League, and unlike 99.999% of my interview subjects, he's been knighted. Alex Morgan was probably the most beneficial though, as she always gets the most page views.
The point is, it all depends on where you're from and what you're in to. Just like trying to designate what league/sport is the runner-up as our national past time. We know what's number one with a bullet.
Second place is not even remotely close to the NFL. And here's how we did the sports popularity power rankings
This is highly subject to debate (comment below please via Facebook), with non scientific metrics.
I'm basing the popularity power rankings on TV ratings, brand equity, brand awareness and other corporate buzzwords I learned in business school. And take my word for it on the TV ratings numbers. Every single weekday my inbox is bombarded by pointless and very quickly deleted self-congratulatory press releases from sports media corporation spokespeople. These releases are about 5% actual news and 95% product placement, as they trumpet themselves about their ratings numbers.
And yes, I obviously must hate myself because I willingly signed up for these mailing lists, and still have not tried to opt out.
Since the NFL rules, we'll use NFL standings format to show the popularity disparity amongst all the sports.
1. NFL 15-1
The AFC and NFC title games each had over 50 million viewers. Every Sunday night regular season game draws at least 25 million. Even that GOD AWFUL Vikings vs Giants Monday night train wreck of horrific quarterbacking still "won the night" and "owned the week" in which it aired.
Super Bowl Media Day will be a transcendent spectacle. It's not just the players who are stars at Super Bowl Media Day. Even the reporters who cover Super Bowl Media Day become stars. Like Ines Sainz (pictured above and also in the featured image) who was an international star due to her silly attention getting outfits and painted on pants at 2009 and 2010 Super Bowl Media Day. And then Sainz became the trending topic at 2011 Super Bowl Media Day; in the wake of the New York Jets sexually harassing her in the fall of 2010.
That was the story of October '10. And yes, thank goodness, no one brings up the name Ines Sainz anymore.
2. College Football 11-5
The college game is a pretty solid number two. The most hyped local game in Chicago history: Northwestern vs. Ohio State when they hosted ESPN College Gameday on October 5th got about 8 million viewers, that's comparable to an ALCS or NLCS game in baseball. The BCS national title game got about 27 million. I know I know, you're going to say "well football has such few games, that's why the ratings are so high." Well, it's also why it's so popular. The once a week build-up and hype is what makes it appealing. I don't have time to watch 82 games of anything, you do?? Even if it was Kate Upton swimsuit competitions, I still would not watch a full 80 game season of even that!
3. NBA 9-7
The Finals get about 12-16 million viewers for each game, and unlike other sports, this is much more about individual stars than it is the size of the market. An example would be ESPN/ABC, and the league itself, would much rather have Lebron James and the Miami Heat from a smaller market than the big market Chicago Bulls. Of course, this sport is nowhere near what is was during the dynasty years of Michael Jordan. Or even when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were in their prime. Also, it doesn't help that the NBA wasn't even considered legit until 1984; and almost everyone with critical thinking skills seems to feels that the Finals are fixed these days.
4. MLB 8-8
I know everyone says it's the national past time, but how many decades ago was that poem written? Baseball is too slow for the social media age. Baseball is just too slow for how fast life moves today period. Also, reporting on this game is a HUGE CHORE.
Can you imagine being a beat writer for 162 games? Traveling with the team? Writing pointless game previews and recaps that have a shelf life and relevance of about 10-12 hours? Maybe I'm really jaded because we're coming off the worst baseball season in local history. And there's been absolutely nothing accomplished this winter that makes anyone with half a brain believe that this summer will see a huge improvement on that. Then again, baseball has been page views death on the web for the last three years or so.
5. NASCAR 6-10
I also interviewed the CEO of NASCAR Brian France. It was a painful and pointless experience for both of us. He bragged about accruing 100 million viewers this past season. That is impressive. Until you realize that the NFL on NBC does that in just four games. Like the NBA, the fact that so many insiders believe the conspiracy theories that the fix is in probably drags on auto racing's popularity.
5. College Basketball 6-10***
I put the asterisks in because for one month, it's 15-1 like the NFL. I think you know the month, and that office bracket pools are the dominant reason for that. However, the rest of the year this sport registers a 3-13 record. Unless you live in Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky or North Carolina, you don't start caring about this sport until late February. This is my favorite sport of all and I'm very loyal. I start paying close attention from October to April. Sometimes I completely lose my mind on Twitter in reaction to it. Still, I feel I've done a great service to the game by relaying this anecdote from an exclusive I had with Jim Nantz. He pretty much saved the sport's anthem from being terminated.
5. NHL 6-10
Proof positive that ESPN is the 800,000,000,000 pound gorilla in the American sports room. They can make or break you. Loving a niche sport is why hockey fans ARE SO ZEALOUS. They have the best passion and most admirable zeal of all fans, and I totally get it! See above for the reason why. I feel my favorite sport is relegated to a small niche too- while deserving a much bigger audience. Hockey isn't my thing, but solidarity my brothers!!! And sisters! I feel more affection for the sport each day.
Don't overrate hockey and consider it the fourth major sport just because the Blackhawks are winners and no one else in town is. Yes, Blackhawks games are a trendy place for Lincoln Park Trixies to get drunk and be seen, but these power rankings are national not local. Out west and down south people DON'T CARE about hockey. AT ALL. Well, they do care, but not as much as they should for a league this size. The game is growing via the Stadium Series, and extension of the Winter Classic.
8. UFC 3-13
If we do this power ranking again five years from now, UFC will be a couple slots higher. Doing huge numbers on Pay-Per-View. Unfortunately, it's only pay-per-view. Maybe the Fox Sports 1 deal will change that? It's the fastest growing sport of all, and poised to take off.
9. MLS 2-14
It's not true that Americans will never embrace soccer. They will, but only on a niche level and it's English Premier League soccer that's being embraced, not American MLS. EPL is making the ticker now all over the ESPN car wash of platforms and the NBC Sports Group mega-deal for the broadcast rights here in the states is a game changer. Like UFC, this is a growing game that will take off.
10. Horse Racing, Boxing, IndyCar 1-15
If this was 1914, not 2014, people would care a lot about those first two. And people only pretend to care about IndyCar for one day of the year.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar in media studies, he’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports Radio.
A former writer for NBCChicago.com and WashingtonTimes.com, he's also been featured on the History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)
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