Taking the Spirit Out of Sports
It’s no surprise that Sunday’s Bucs-Chiefs game was not only a dud on the field but also when it came to TV ratings.
Nielsen reported that about 92 million people watched Super Bowl LV, the smallest audience since 2006. CBS, who broadcast the game said that number increases to 96.4 million viewers when you add in the record 5.7 million who live-streamed the game on various platforms.
By comparison last year’s Chiefs-49ers game was viewed by more than 101 million. The most watched Super Bowl was in 2015 when the Patriots beat the Seahawks before an audience of 114.4 million. Sunday’s game received a 38.2 household rating which I mention because it’s the lowest since the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969. Of course the Super Bowl will still be the most viewed program on TV this year.
The TV rating news from Sunday was not all bad. Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl attracted an audience of 2.1 million which is a 14% increase from 2020.
In truth the overall appetite for sports is simply way down in the COVID-19 era we are living in and you can see that on all levels. People simply are not nearly as passionate about their teams in general when they can’t go to a game or are limited at best. You can pipe in as much music and sound effects as you want but cardboard cut-outs are simply not the same as live bodies.
This has spilled down into the high school level as sports in this school year has been ignored by many especially this winter. With spectators not allowed inside gyms or ice rinks games take on more of a scrimmage-like feel. As challenging as the fall season was the winter has been worse and each week basketball and hockey teams get shut down for a variety of COVID-related issues.
Missing out the most are students who often create a circus-like atmosphere for big games. Some plan elaborate themes and will dress up in special attire and fill their home bleachers, standing the entire time and cheering in unison for their classmates.
That’s all missing as the bleachers get pushed back with the only seats filled being those occupied by players not in the game. It’s truly sad because sports not only unifies a school but can do the same for a community but not during these troubled times.
Here’s hoping this all becomes a distant memory sooner than later.