The NFL: Not Just a Sport, but a Way of Life

Aside from international soccer, American football is the most popular sport globally, due largely to the National Football League (NFL). American football fans are so rabid for football that it remains arguably the second most popular sport in the world despite the fact that it still doesn’t have a widespread international presence. In the United States, football is a way of life, from high school football under the Friday night lights to college football on Saturday mornings, and finally with professional games on Sunday afternoon. Here are a few reasons why we know the NFL is not just a hobby but a lifestyle.

What the Data Says

According to revenue, the NFL is the most profitable sport globally — and it’s not particularly close. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are second and third on the list, combining for $20 billion in annual revenue. The NFL alone brings in $18 billion in yearly revenue. The league makes more money annually than the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A combined, the top four soccer leagues in the world. That revenue comes from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, and sponsorships, including sponsors giving us NFL betting lines weekly.

To be fair to those leagues, that is primarily due to the size of the United States population and the lack of another competitive football league. In soccer, there are many soccer leagues that fans can watch. Still, it is an impressive figure. The average American fan spends nearly $750 per year on football. But enough about the data. What makes being an NFL so great? Let’s start with the stadiums.

Image credit: Zac Gudakov via Unsplash

Stadium Environments

The NFL’s fan culture is marked by two distinct things: tailgating and noise. Kansas City, known for being the best tailgating city in the NFL, made news in 2023 by hosting the World’s Largest Tailgate, including appearances by Saturday Night Live star Heidi Gardner and Donna Kelce, the mother of Chiefs’ star Travis Kelce and Eagles’ star Jason Kelce. For NFL fans, the game is just one part of the experience. Fans arrive at the stadium hours before start time to grill food, play games, and listen to music together.

Once they get in the stadium, NFL fans are known for their ability to make noise. The two loudest stadiums in the world are NFL stadiums. Lumen Field in Seattle and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City have held the world record for the loudest crowd. The game on the field is the most important thing, but the atmosphere is what fans love.


Just like with any sports league, fans cheer for specific teams. NFL fans don’t disappoint with their loyalty to their teams. Few things in culture tie people together like their love for their NFL team. The Green Bay Packers are the best example. Established in 1919 and playing in one of the oldest stadiums in American sports, the Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned professional sports team in the United States.

They have a whopping 537,460 stockholders despite playing in a city that is home to just over 100,000 people. The Packers are Green Bay’s only professional sports team, and images of Lambeau Field are some of the most iconic in the sport. Unlike other stadiums built in metro areas or with vast parking structures, Lambeau is built right in the heart of the community, with many fans owning suburban homes just a few football fields lengths away from the stadium. The fans in Green Bay literally own their team, showing just how committed they are to their team. Not only does this give them literal ownership, but it also promotes community involvement and camaraderie.

Image credit: Tim Mielke via Unsplash

24/7 Coverage

Aside from NFL games taking over every Sunday afternoon, fans also devour non-stop coverage throughout the week. On game day, the NFL dominates all coverage. The most-watched event in American history was the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. The 10th most watched event was President Richard Nixon’s resignation speech in 1974. Each of the eight events sandwiched in between are Super Bowls. Overall, 15 of the top 20 most-watched events in American history were Super Bowls.

To give proper context, the NFL had more total viewers during the first week of the 2023 season than MLB games had for the entire season up to that date. Aside from games, fans watch sports coverage all week, listen to the radio, and participate in call-in shows. Social media is littered with fan opinions on the sport, and sports television shows spend a disproportionate amount of their time talking about the NFL. No sport is as watched as the NFL, not just on game day but throughout the week. Networks like ESPN are often as watched as major news outlets like FOX News or CNN.

What Does It Mean for the Sport?

Ultimately, the NFL’s success is driven by its fans — few fanbases are as loyal and engaged as American football. The data only suggests that the sport will continue to grow. The NFL is often a family tradition passed on through the generations. It is a connection for families nationwide and will continue for the foreseeable future.

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