NFL by the Numbers: What You Don't Know About the Super Bowl

NFL by the Numbers: What You Don't Know About the Super Bowl NFL by the Numbers: What You Don't Know About the Super Bowl

January 26, 20182 min read

On Sunday, February 4, the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will play in the biggest NFL game of the year. While others might be looking at the end game, Dr. David Berri, professor of economics at Southern Utah University and expert on sports economics, looks at the actual numbers of the 2018 Super Bowl.

Comparing the 2014 Super Bowl audience (160 million viewers) to a regular season soccer game between Real Madrid and Barcelona (400 million viewers), Dr. Berri observes that while the Super Bowl is one of the largest sporting events in the U.S., it is nowhere near the biggest sporting event in the world. Another fact they many don’t consider is that almost half of NFL fans are women.

Finished last year, the new U.S. Bank Stadium (costing the city $500 million) in Minneapolis will be host to Super Bowl LII. The hope is that hosting the game will bring economic growth to the city.

“Whether the [economic impact] is $130 million or $404 million, it is important to note the size of the Minneapolis economy. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Gross Domestic Product of Minneapolis is $246.689 billion. So even if it is $404 million, this economic impact is less than 0.2% of the overall size of the local economy.”

But what about the game? Can numbers offer any insight into who will win next Sunday?

“Despite all you will hear from all the ‘experts’, we really don’t know who is going to win. Football is a very unpredictable game. The best can play poorly. The worst can surprise us.”

According to Dr. Berri what you should know is the players will be trying their best and they are there to play the game.

“The major stars do not get paid much to play this game. Player salaries are for the regular season. There is a bonus for playing this game and players on both teams get a bonus. For the stars – like Tom Brady – the bonus is immensely small compared to their regular season salary.”

“So, for players like Brady, they are playing mostly for the love of the game. Brady and other stars are like the fans. They really like the game.”

Dr. Berri has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, the NCAA, and gender issues in sports. He is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit his profile.


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  • David Berri
    David Berri Professor of Economics

    Specializing in evaluations of players and coaches in sports, gender issues in sports, and competitive balance in sports

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