The NFL Draft Proves that Football Remains the King
Each and every year, the NFL Draft wins over fans. In 2018, the NFL draft totaled 45.8 million people. This year, 11.01 million viewers tuned in for the first round. Football always wins in America. The NFL didn’t just grab fans, they dominated the night. Thursday brought four sporting events:
- NFL Draft: First-Round Coverage (11.01 million viewers)
- NBA Playoffs: Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs (1.8 million viewers)
- NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets (1.4 million viewers)
- NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars (>1 million viewers)
Unlike other sports, the NFL continue to reign as king of sporting television. Odd as it may be, a football draft is more appealing than NBA or NHL playoffs by a nine million margin. In fact, the first-round NFL draft coverage is over 2.5 times more than the sum of the three NBA/NHL game viewers. Even though many think of the NFL Draft as nothing more than a name-call or chance to boo Roger Goodell, the draft is full of heightened excitement and fun.
Reason One: Following Your Favorite College Athletes
In America, we love football. From high school to the NFL. So, when it comes to the NFL draft fans already have their favorite guys. They already watched their guys make highlight reel jukes, catches, hits or plays on the ball. Fame and prestige (though without the funds that should come with that) are bestowed upon collegiate athletes. Football players have swag and we love to see them on the field. But more than just their success on the field, fans love the stories behind the athletes. Watching collegiate sports is like watching cherry blossoms bloom in Washington D.C. Players are growing on a national platform. One blink and they are gone. These athletes overcome incredible adversity to get to the NFL draft. It’s easy to feel invested into their lives. Happiness and joy culminate when your favorite athlete gets that call.
Reason Two: Putting Hope in Your NFL Team
When it’s your team’s turn to pick, nothing else matters. You find yourself glued to the TV, staring at the computer or constantly refreshing your phone’s sports app. There is an overwhelming experience of anticipation. No, it’s not the same as watching a Hail Mary or final shot in basketball, but there is suspense nonetheless. Because this pick matters. It could matter for years. This player could elevate your team to new height. Maybe they could even be a future hall of famer. But, at the same time, that choice could also send your team into a downward spiral. Commit to the wrong quarterback and your team will wait 5-10 years before competing. The stress is real and it defines a fan.
Reason Three: Surveying the Competition
More important than your team’s choices, are the choices of the competition. Division rivalries are once again restoked. The draft is a time to cheer, and to jeer. Hopefully the enemies draft the biggest bust in the draft. It’s a beautiful feeling watching the opposition flair and falter. However, if the opposition is rising while your team is flailing and faltering, it can be maddening. Still, as odd as it may be, excitement can be heightened by that sense of disaster. It’s almost too bad to look away. Whatever success or failures happen, it is a certainty that the draft captivates fans of the game.
Reason Four: The Prep-Work
For the nerd and analyst, preparing for the NFL draft is an adventure in itself. We spend countless hours listening to podcast, reading articles and creating spreadsheets. Friends bet each other about their top picks. Fans fall in love with prospects and painstakingly hope for their team to make the “right” choice. Just as many hobbies are as much about the process as the results, the draft is no different. Pursuing data, opinion and knowledge is an incredible journey to those with passion.
Reason Five: Fulfilling the American Dream
In true American fashion, the NFL captivates us with stories of triumph. Players rising from poverty and heartbreak to national fame. Instantly, players like Christian Wilkins, Josh Jacobs and Kaleb McGary come to mind. They overcame poverty, violence, tragedy and homelessness. This happens again and again. Each round of the NFL is littered with athletes that grew up in foster-care, homeless or eating noodles for dinner. Watching athletes rise from nothing inspires each of us to greatness in our own lives.