College football bowl season is upon us in this distinctly American holiday tradition. Already people are complaining that there are too many bowl games which begin on December 21 with the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. There are currently 34 bowl games on the calendar plus the BCS National Championship Game on January 6.
The appetite for college football in America seems insatiable and the bowl games provide one last taste of football before the long winter months which lead up to spring football games and then ultimately to another fall where hope springs eternal at least until the first game is played in late August.
Some media types have expressed disdain for the likes of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl or the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Are these games really necessary? Do they make money? Does anyone watch them on cable outlets? Well, the short answer is yes, these games meet a demand for consumption by the American college football fans. College students, alumni groups and those who have never set foot on the campus of the teams for whom they cheer, all demand extending the football season as long as possible.
Aside from the thousands of people who attend the games there are millions more watching from the comfort of the living room with their high definition televisions bringing the athletic images up close and personal.
One should also consider the economic impact for the participating schools and conferences who share in the television revenue. And there are approximately 90-95 athletes per team who also enjoy an extended season. Many of the athletes are seniors who will play their last football game ever for their beloved college or university. Coaches, university administrators, parents and siblings and hundreds more are impacted by the expanded college bowl schedule.
And then there are the sponsors. Many bowl games feature title sponsors such as the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta or the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami. Sponsors have learned how to maximize their association with bowl games in unique ways. In fact, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl features consumer contests which engage the fans in creative ways while promoting the snacks sold to millions of consumers.
At the end of the day money drives sport and television produces money. Networks and cable outlets pay millions of dollars for the right to broadcast bowl games. In turn, they profit from the sale of advertising on those broadcasts. Consumers benefit from the programming and television ratings continue to be high for most bowls.
In the end, many people benefit from the “extended” college football season. So, if you are not interested in watching the games, there are certainly many viable programming options for the non-college football fans. But for millions of fans around the US and beyond the holiday bowl season offers entertainment, quality programming and an opportunity for thousands of young men (and women when you consider cheerleaders and support staff) the opportunity to play one more game for their alma mater.
It’s a good thing for the students and the economy. Enjoy the bowl season and may your favorite team win. I’ll be watching and waiting to see if the State of Alabama can keep the national championship trophy in their state for the fifth straight year.