Football is still America’s favorite sport despite the controversy and shifting habits of viewers.
At least one poll shows that football is the No. 1 sport to watch for 37 percent of the U.S. and the next most popular sport is eons away in polling terms.
The No. 2 most popular sport in the U.S. is basketball with 11 percent of respondents claiming it as their No. 1 sport.
While it’s known innately by many casual fans, little exists on the present psyche of American sportsdom about the reality and nature of the National Football League, the organization that controls professional football in the U.S.
So, to get the casual fan or football initiate started, here are some NFL facts to set the stage for what the league is like.
Billions in Betting Money
Sports betting is illegal in most U.S. states. But, it’s seen as a huge financial opportunity not take by the NFL. According to a financial and media analysis company, the NFL could make $2.3 billionadditional dollars if it were to set up and run its own sports betting book. Here’s more information about how that works.
But it’s an opportunity the NFL is not taking!
Some projections show that illegal, off-the-books betting on football generally could total as much as a staggering $93 billion a year.
To put that in context, the national retailer Target made a total of $72.6 billion and the entire budget for the metropolis New York City accounts for about $92.8 billion in spending.
Genuine NFL Facts Are Only 99 Years Old
The NFL as we know it today will celebrate it’s centennial in 2020. That means that NFL facts can only be 99 years old to this point.
The NFL was originally founded as the American Professional Football Conference on August 20, 1920, on Canton, Ohio. There were 14 teams originally and a team called the Akron Pros won the first league championship in that season.
But in 1968, the NFL merged with a fast-growing, wildly successful competitor league, the American Football League. The merger set up the professional football system, the Super Bowl and the core of the teams that exist in the NFL today.
Most commentators and fans are blind to NFL history past the merger because there was not Super Bowl to crown a definitive world champion.
Attendance at Games Down
At one time, NFL games always sold out or had full stadiums. The best-attended game was in 2009 at Cowboys Stadium in a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants which garnered a grown of just over 105,000.
This was just before the ascension of streaming mixed with a recent explosion of cable access to drive people to the couch rather than the stadium. The Great Recession also drove Americans to think a bit more thrifty. The 2010 season had the worst overall attendance at was the peak of the recession.
The NFL Was a Non-Profit?
Until 2015, the NFL was a non-profit corporation, meaning that it was largely exempted from federal taxes and other state-level taxes. This is despite the fact that the NFL, as its own entity, generates billions in revenue and has wide profit margins. It also meant that the NFL could accept and spend charitable donations.
That’s changed now. In 2015, an uproar about the tax breaks the league got because of its non-profit status drove the league to switch its status to for-profit and to take on the tax burden similar to other businesses its size.
Despite the new tax burden, there is a major upside to being a private company: the league doesn’t have to report financial disclosures publicly. However, the guess is that league revenue is between $16 and $17 billion.
So Many More Facts
The reality is that the depth of NFL facts is staggering. Above, is just a smattering of a few high-level, nifty facts that look at some deep history and current issues of the league from the past and present.
Keep it parked here for more facts and sharp opinions on the NFL.