The NFL Reigns Supreme in Professional Sports; And it’s Here to Stay

Clayton Stehr, Staff Writer

Step aside America’s pastime; the new and undisputed sheriff in town is the National Football League, and it’s sitting comfortably alone at the top. The NFL’s soaring popularity in recent decades have left the other professional sport enterprises in its dust.

It may come as a surprise, considering the recent developments in concussion research and domestic and child abuse scandals. However, in spite of these hurdles, the business that is the NFL continues to chug along, churning out $10 billion in revenue in 2013 alone, and recently signing television deals with FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN, amounting to a cool total of $42 billion through 2022. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell even shoots to have $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027, revealing the optimistic outlook the NFL continues to sustain.

Not only is the NFL raking in billions of dollars, but its popularity is blowing away its competitors. Regular season NFL games drew better ratings than the World Series, and

34 of the 35 most watched programs in the fall and winter were owed to NFL games in 2014.

World Series rights holder Fox wasn’t even given a Sunday NFL game before Game 5, and NBC’s Sunday Night Football dominated Fox’s World Series game, running away with 18.8 million viewers compared to Fox’s 12.6.

Even though one in three NFL players develop neurological problems, that issue doesn’t seem to be slowing down the seemingly bulletproof NFL. However, recent issues in other professional leagues have taken their toll. The Donald Sterling scandal in the NBA drove some NBA players to the brink of quitting, while the PED (performance enhancing drug) scandals of Alex Rodriguez and dozens of other accomplished players in the MLB turned the league upside down, as dominant hitters and pitchers from the past decade revealed they cheated their way to record-breaking performances.

The MLB, NBA, and NHL seem content to sit in the rearview mirror of the NFL. NBA owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks admitted that “there is no value in saying the NFL sucks. It won’t bring fans.” An anonymous NBA minority owner even confessed that other sports were “playing nice” in regards to dealing with the recent flare ups in the NFL.

The Super Bowl in 2014 shattered viewership records, as 111 million people tuned in to watch the game; that’s over a third of America’s population. The NFC Championship game this past Sunday was the most watched television show since last year’s Super Bowl. When that many people are interested in a sport, one has to wonder: will the NFL ever come down from the top?