Lawrence Abeln

The annual Super Bowl is a moment that reflects national unity and the power of teamwork and offers a few valuable learning lessons for organizations today.

The National Football League’s (NFL) 2024 championship game, also known as the Super Bowl, took place in Las Vegas, NV on February 11, 2024. This single day event has evolved since its origination in the 1960’s to become one of the largest and most commercialized sporting events of our time.

It's a big business with a mass audience. The average ticket price to attend the Super Bowl is over 10 thousand USD, and it’s been commercialized so much that companies can reach a large scale of viewers that no other platform offers: 25% of Americans will watch the game simultaneously. The only other one-day event to attract as many Americans is the last U.S. presidential election.

Companies have launched new products and capitalized through this event platform, and many startups have become household names through their Super Bowl exposure. Viewers watch in real-time some very creative 30 second commercials, creating entertainment and value in the mind of the consumer. However, the exposure comes with a hefty price tag. Businesses and organizations promoting products or services during the Super Bowl may pay as much as 7 million USD for one 30 second commercial.

The NFL gets over 100 billion USD in 10-year TV rights, making it a massive revenue generator for each NFL team and making them more and more valuable. The latest NFL team to be sold, The Washington Commanders transacted at 6 billion USD, not a bad investment from owner Dan Snyder’s 800 million purchase price!

This sporting event attracted not only 65,000 people in the stands (including the celebrity Taylor Swift, girlfriend of The Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce), but over 110 million Americans on their television, phones, or tablets, and millions of others globally connecting through YouTube and digital streaming platforms.

There are a few learning moments we can take from this event that extend beyond the 100-yard field of the game:

  1. More than just a sport, the game is now an experience for children, families and others who may not know all the rules of the game but who share common passions.
  2. The halftime show has evolved to showcase entertainment and draw in different audiences who may not even be the ones who like the sport of football.
  3. For many, the Super Bowl has become a bonding experience for family and friends where they can come together in unity and to root for something in common, sharing dishes and conversation throughout the show.
  4. The Super Bowl is a chance to root for your favorite team in the NFL and build a sense of community, connection, and personal identity to that team. We proudly wear the team’s colors, and players’ names and numbers on our clothing to show others our passion for the sport.
  5. It’s also an opportunity to show the wonderful dynamics of competition and teamwork. There are 32 teams in the NFL. The Super Bowl is the culminating event that showcases how teams from all around the country and cities, with members from different cultures, backgrounds, and skills come together to showcase what individuals cannot do alone. Sports at this championship level show us how a collaborative team is needed to achieve the highest performance and how a team triumphs over contributions of individuals.
  6. And finally, the Super Bowl is truly a moment America comes together and shows that in team sports, we can create a shared experience with common values.

May we enjoy many more of these fine Super Bowl moments in our culture!

Lawrence Abeln

Deputy Dean of Thunderbird Executive Education and Clinical Professor of Global Management

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