Today was “day 1” for the NFL draft–the first 32 college players are selected by NFL teams at an event at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. No passes are thrown, no game played. Many of these players will ride the pine this fall and winter during the 2009-10 NFL season. Another set will get hurt or won’t make the grade, prior to making any material impact on their teams. And some will in fact break-through, but we won’t know this for years.
In reality, Draft Day is a professional, grown-up version of children choosing kick-ball teams on playgrounds. But the execution is amazing. There’s lots of money at stake: 1st round players will be under contract to earn more than $400M in a few months. There’s intrigue–teams trading or not trading, moves up, moves down. And it’s easy to follow along at home, with things like Mock Drafts, and 24/7 coverage on SportsCenter.
All in all, the NFL has shown why it has grown to be the top dog sports business in the USA. As a business person and marketing person, I’ve got to take my hats off to the NFL.
Given all this, I find it useful to reflect on the amazing, masterful job the NFL does in driving excitement and interest in their core fan base. It is hard to imagine any other business or franchise putting together the same level of excitement or interest based on something less immediate. Imagine early national party presidential candidate debates times about 10.