With the Super Bowl just around the corner, excitement for football is at its highest. The Super Bowl is the largest grossing and most watched sports event in America. But it is not the largest grossing and most watched sports event in the world. The NFL has tried a handful of tricks to spice things up in recent years. They have tried to increase international viewership by staging regular season games in which NFL teams compete at a stadium outside of the US. They switched the Pro Bowl from after the Super Bowl to before it. In 2009, they had the Pro Bowl at the same location as the Super Bowl (the first time it was not at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii since 1978). This year, the Pro Bowl will be unconferenced for the first time since it began in 1970. It is not the Super Bowl that is hurting for viewers; it is the Pro Bowl that might be in trouble.
Fans are all hyped up for the Super Bowl, but surprisingly the Pro Bowl does not have the same draw. There have been some rumors that this may be the last Pro Bowl. The event has all the top players from throughout the league and takes place in the tropical paradise of Hawaii while most of the country is suffering through the worst of winter. The Pro Bowl should be an easy sell for football fans.
The Pro Bowl is a great event for Hawaii tourism. It provides over 400 jobs for locals and is an excellent showcase of the islands while half of the country is blanketed in snow. The Pro Bowl is not just one game and it's done, it's a weeklong event. Fans are invited to come out and watch the teams practice. There is a big "block party" in Waikiki the night before the Pro Bowl. Bands perform, athletes mingle, and blocks of booths take over the road. Arguably the highlight of the whole Pro Bowl is when the cheerleaders play the mascots in a mini football match-up.
The NFL has tried a number of different approaches to entice more viewership of the Pro Bowl, but perhaps they are missing the most obvious answer: team up with Hawaii Tourism and promote what a spectacular week long football fantasy it truly is!