NFL (US Football)
It is reckoned that the first professional footballer in the US was Yale All-American Guard William Heffelfinger in 1892. However we have to span the years until after the First World War with the formation of theAmerican Professional Football Association. This included ten teams from four different states but only lasted two seasons until the National Football League was created. The world has changed a lot since then, evidenced by the fact that only two of today’s NFL teams were among the founders, namely the Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears) and the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals). The oldest continuous franchise is the Green Bay Packers – keeping the same name and staying in the same place!
It took time for American football to evolve into the multimillion dollar contest that we know. The League held their first Championship in 1933 and after WWII the office of President was changed to Commissioner, a more powerful post wjhich was similar to that in Major League Baseball. As profitability increased, it brought more financial stability and since 1952 no team has gone bankrupt. In 1958, the NFL Championship was dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and that demonstrated that the NFL was one of the most popular sports competitions in the USA.
The most important development, and one which has had the consequences of bringing to the public the most hyped up and celebrated annual sports event in the calendar was the merger with rival American Football League. The result of this merger was firstly a much larger league – reaching its current level of 32 teams - but as a major development, the arrival of the Super Bowl, the all singing all dancing climax of the professional football season.
The Super Bowl generates interest among American viewers like no other event. Analysts put the audience for the 2015 Bowl at 120.8 million viewers during its final minutes when the Patriots literally snatched away victory from the Seahawks. There are arguments about the economic boost to the host city that the holding of the Super Bowl will bring – varying in the case of Phoenix, Arizona, this year’s hosts from $30 million to $130 million and even up to $500 million. The cost of a TV commercial during the interval has been reported as $4 million for a thirty second slot.
With the enormous publicity generated not only by the Bowl but by the process of arriving there, NFL is in the kind of firm financial footing that many sports bodies would envy and tickets for matches at all the 32 participating teams are always in demand.
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