Saturday, February 5, 2011

Go Pack! and Why

I'll be rooting for the Packers on Sunday. I know. I know. I'm a Bears fan which should make rooting for the Packers as anathema as rooting for the White Sox is for a Cubs fan, but let's face it: I'm a fair-weather Bears fan. I'll accept it. I only follow them when they're winning and in the playoffs. I justify this mostly because being a die-hard Cubs fan involves more than enough rooting for a losing team for any one person to endure. That, and I really only follow the NFL during the playoffs anyway. That's the only time I find it interesting, mostly because college football is already over by that point.

In any case, because I don't bleed Navy and Orange, I can have perspective and root for the Packers because of what they represent. What is that? Roughly 100,000 people live in Green Bay with about 300,000 in the metro-area if one can call it that (source). That's by far the smallest of all small market pro-teams. The next smallest NFL market is Jacksonville at 1 million plus. The smallest NBA market is Memphis at 1.2 million. Baseball's is Milwaukee's 1.5 million. (Source)

To put that in perspective, the Packer's stadium seats about 74k, or 75% of the city's population. The fact that a team in a market that small can not only survive, but succeed and compete for championships is a testament to the NFL's economic structure, and shows how MLB's economic structure fails.

Now I realize that they're two different sports. NFL teams only need to fill a stadium for 8 home games a year vs. 81 for baseball. I'm not saying MLB should plop a team down in the Quad Cities and expect it to thrive. But when a league can have a successful franchise in a city that small, it's doing something right.

Not only that, but this weekend's game will likely be one of the higher rated Super Bowls in history because the Steelers and Packers have such large fan bases. Can you imagine a Pirates/Royals World Series getting anything but miserable ratings? Of course that will never happen because baseball's failed economic structure precludes it.

The Packers are the ultimate small-town team, and I have to pull them. Plus Aaron Rogers went to Cal and I'm now married to a huge Cal fan. Plus, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the least liked players in the league. I know die-hard, life-long Steelers fans who feel that if they win it all they'll have to put an asterisk by it to somehow apologize for having such a slimeball as their quarterback.

So... Go Packers!

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