By Mark Leach
Whether you are invested in your hometown team, a player of a specific team or simply counting down the days until you have an excuse to get together with friends for finger-foods and Super Bowl commercials, the NFL playoffs will always bring in a crowd. But does this postseason lack the excitement it usually holds?
During the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LIV, we cannot help but pay attention to which teams are playing each other. Considering the amount of national media attention these weeks receive, a sense of anticipation begins as Super Bowl Sunday draws closer.
Year after year, the celebration over the last NFL game of the season occurs without much complaint. But the hype each year can certainly change depending on the teams that make the playoffs.
This year, a shift in excitement seemed to take place. On and off-campus, the media appeared to have less buzz around the games leading up to and during the playoffs. Students on campus felt this shift too.
Students have different reasons for whether or not they tune into football playoffs this year, including not closely following the sport around this time of year because of how disappointing their favorite teams were in the regular season.
Washington Redskins fan Kim Hall touched on the fact that because of her favorite football team being a disappointment, her interest in the overall season was hindered.
“I am not rooting for any team in particular anymore, and do not really care who wins at this point,” Hall said. Even her excitement around the Super Bowl is lesser than previous years. “Regarding traditions? Surely an average Super Bowl party with friends, food, and football.”
Another reason why students do or don’t show interest in this year’s NFL season is because of certain players and themes that students are willing to watch and look into.
“I love watching Patrick Mahomes play,” senior Nick Godwin said. “It is just the most fun seeing him play over anyone else in the league.”
Godwin emphasized how, even though he is not a Chiefs fan in particular, he believes that “the Chiefs deserve to win the Super Bowl,” as well as “watching Mahomes and the Chiefs start a dynasty of their own.”
A common response among students on campus about the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl were more focused on the Super Bowl party.
Similarly to Hall, Godwin expanded on some of his favorite Super Bowl party pastimes, “I don’t really care how it is brought and who brings it, but buffalo chicken dip better be wherever I am while I watch the game!”
To recap some of the themes from this year’s NFL regular season and postseason, teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs headlined the league as some of the most dominant teams and favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Messiah students seemed less interested in the teams that remained in the playoffs.
The Tennessee Titans faced the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC while the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship. That particular weekend was a result of some of students’ favorite teams losing to some of these teams, including the Baltimore Ravens being upset by the Titans, the Philadelphia Eagles losing two weekends prior to the Seattle Seahawks, and even the New England Patriots being upset by the Titans as well.
Much of this year’s NFL postseason has consisted of familiar teams failing to make it to playoffs, while less popular teams like the Chiefs and 49ers headed toward the Super Bowl.
The lack of interest in the NFL playoffs has not just been from Messiah College students, but most of the country as well. Both championship games on January 20thpulled in the smallest average audience since 2009. Ratings for these games directly relate to the reasons already addressed. To put it simply – the teams were less interesting to football fans.
According to the broadcasts of both games on CBS and Fox Sports, there were averages of 41.1 million viewers on CBS for the AFC Championship and 43.6 million viewers on Fox for the NFC Championship. The 41.1 million who tuned into CBS was the lowest viewership for an AFC championship game since 2009, and the average ratings on both CBS and Fox was 42.4 million viewers – a 14 percent drop from the previous year’s games.
By no means is this an attempt to persuade football fans that this year’s NFL season was not exciting. Messiah College students still looked forward to their Super Bowl parties, regardless of which teams were playing. The spirit of the NFL season will continue to be celebrated with food, family, friends and fun commercials.