Without really thinking about it, what is the heart and soul of US sports? Easy. Football. Or “Eggball” as Europeans mockingly call it. It gets all of the media hype possible. Its athletes are household names. Its flagship show, the Super Bowl, features iconic halftime shows and immortalizing plays, making it the most talked about sport in this country. But, that might change, thanks to one event.
For the first time in history, the FIFA World Cup will be held in the Winter. Qatar is scheduled to host the event, between late November and to mid-December. While clearly a controversial decision, it makes for an interesting scenario here in the United States. Monday, Thursday, and Sundays are all sacred, for the sake of football. During the World Cup’s run, thirteen of those days will collide with NFL broadcasting.
On November 20, 7pm Qatar time, the host and Ecuador will kick off the event. That will be 12PM Eastern Time, an hour after ‘Ecuador vs Qatar’ starts, eight NFL games will also air. Some of the noteworthy teams playing at time will be the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and defending Super Bowl Champions the LA Rams. National teams like Ecuador and Qatar won’t set the world on fire, but given that it’s the first match, millions will tune into that game. Soccer isn’t the most popular in the US, but with a spectacle like the World Cup, Americans will tune in no matter what. An estimated 3.572 billion people watched some official broadcast coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup RussiaTM. Over half (51.3%) of the global population (aged 4 years and over) were captured, according to FIFA.com. Super Bowl historically is the most watched edition, recording 114.44 million viewers tuned into the game (according to Statista.com). The biggest American game can’t draw half of the viewers in an average FIFA World Cup match.
And it’s not just about watching the World Cup and NFL live. Plenty of the games will not go head-to-head against one another. We have to take into consideration that internet traffic is far more significant. Social media will be flooded with posts related to the World Cup. Even during major games featuring the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs, people will be more inclined to watch European powerhouses and former World Cup Champions, Germany and Spain, duke it out for close to two hours. Major channels and sports news outlets will cut away from NFL games, to recap World Cup games or other news related to the event.
Let us not forget, the United States Men’s National Team will officially make its return to the biggest stage in sports, having missed the 2018 World Cup. The Stars and Stripes have arguably a credible team that can make an impact. So, what makes a bigger buzz, individual teams representing their respective cities, or one team representing the entire nation? Probably the latter.
Then you have the stars of the games. In the NFL there are the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LV MVP Patrick Mahomes, Packers’ multiple-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers, Vikings’ young wideout highlight reel Justin Jefferson, the 49ers’ monstrous defensive end Nick Bosa, and the GOAT Tom Brady. These players turn heads, just by mentioning them.
On the other side, you have multiple-time Balon d’Oro winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the still very elegant Brazilian Neymar, France’s talisman Kylian Mbappé, and the future of Spain in Pedri. Out of these ten athletes, the last five have a combined worldwide fan base. The first five are major stars in the states, with some attraction in other countries.
Maybe, if this phenomena occurred prior to the internet, FIFA’s World Cup wouldn’t affect the NFL season. Or maybe nothing will occur. Only time will tell. What do you think will happen?