Sunday, November 06, 2011

Will You Have the Pigskin With Mashed Potatoes and Gravy or the Pigskin Sichuan, Sir?

Television provided us with about the best psychological test for football fans ever created last night. Separated by only one digit on the remote were two thrilling college football games, each decided on its final play. In one, undefeated LSU beat previously undefeated Alabama 9-6. In the other, undefeated Oklahoma State staged approximately five quarter rallies to take Kansas State 52-45.

One more detail. The first game went to overtime. The second game had 97 points in its regulation 60 minutes.

As noted, both games were superior football entertainment for neutral viewers who simply wanted drama for their time commitment. That's where the experiment comes in. Which of these polar opposite contests did fans like best? Was it the video game in real time and space, or the one where points were scored at the pace of Serie A Italian soccer?

Myself, I much preferred and watched much more of LSU-Alabama. But then, I PLAYED defense as a youth. What about everyone else?

The TV ratings will tell the tale, especially the ratings of the second halves of each game, because that will indicate an active choice by fans when it was clear what kind of games these were going to be. Due to the hype factor, I'm sure LSU-Alabama started off with a massive lead in total audience.

My guess, and to be honest, hope, is that LSU-Alabama maintained its lead and maybe even increased it as the night went on. If I'm right, the result poses a not-so-theoretical issue for the organization that'll play its games today.

The National Football League has spent more than 30 years altering its rules to fit a simple premise: fans want to see lots of touchdowns and high-scoring games. The NFL is phenomenally successful, and it's always hard to argue with success.

But what if the premise isn't really true? What if fans like to see good football of any kind, and aren't so concerned with how fast the scoreboard changes, as long as two teams play a competitive game to the best of their abilities?

I have no doubt that the NFL's reaction to evidence indicating the latter proposition would be to ignore it. But if there's one form of evidence the NFL finds impossible to ignore, it's the Nielsens.


Post a Comment

<< Home