Five things the AFL can learn from the Super Bowl (and a few they could learn from us!)
3AW’s Shane McInnes is in the United States for the Super Bowl and took plenty away from it!
Here’s a list of a few things he thinks we can learn from the American game! (And a couple of things they could learn from the AFL).
My greatest sporting love growing up, was the AFL Grand Final, and for me there is no sporting event I’d rather attend.
But, growing up with an American mother, I also developed a great appreciation for American football, and in particular, the Super Bowl.
This year I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, and experience the biggest event in American sport.
Many will tell you we shouldn’t make comparisons between the Super Bowl and the AFL Grand Final. They’ll say the two are mutually exclusive and should remain that way.
But, take a step back, and look at the similarities.
The Super Bowl and Grand Final are both about crowning a champion, both about celebrating national past times and both bring millions together with one common denominator, football.
Given those similarities, what can we learn from the way the NFL and Atlanta have hosted America’s biggest sporting event? (Remember- This isn’t about the Americanisation of our great game, it’s about improving the spectacle and experience).
WHAT WE CAN LEARN…
CHANGE FROM $10? YES, PLEASE.
Thank you, Atlanta. And thank you, Mercedes Benz Stadium. They lead the way in stadium food and drink pricing, not only in America, but around the world.
$2 for a hot dog. $2 for a pizza. $4 for a souvenir cup with endless refills. $3 for a bottle of water.
It’s the way concession stands should be. And you know what? Mercedes Benz Stadium still turns a profit!
Instead of gouging patrons at the cash register, why not get more people through?
More food = more turnover = more profit, even with lower margins.
You don’t need an economics degree to work it out.
LET THEM TALK
In my decade of covering sport for 3AW, I’ve never experienced the openness to media that exists during Super Bowl week.
For the first four days of the week, the coach and every single player was made available to the media over a 90 minute period.
No player was off limits.
No question was not allowed. It was open. It was informative.
And to the fan, it was beneficial.
It’s something the AFL should mandate.
In fairness, some clubs are very open, but, others are incredibly insular.
The more coaches and players speak, the more often we get the facts, and that has to be a good thing.
AN EXCELLENT EXPERIENCE
In recent years the fan zone the AFL has established outside the MCG has exceeded expectations.
But, let’s be honest, it can be bigger and better.
And, when looking for how it can be enhanced, look no further than the NFL Experience.
An NFL Theme Park, the NFL Experience is set up in a building the size of the entire Melbourne Exhibition Centre and offers adults and kids alike the opportunity to emulate their favourite players with countless exhibitions and attractions.
Across the road, NFL Live, hosts nightly concerts for locals and visitors alike, bringing to life the Super Bowl precinct in the day’s leading up to the main game.
SING SING SING
It’s often said that we don’t need big entertainment acts at the Grand Final because “the game is entertainment enough.”
The game is awesome, but this is the GRAND FINAL!
It’s meant to be bigger, grander and more spectacular than any game preceding it.
And, this is where the American’s smash it out of the park.
It’s visually stimulating, sounds great, and that’s something we should aspire to have, especially at half time.
There’s no doubt, the night setting is of great benefit to the NFL, but surely a big name music act at the MCG, with some great choreography would be a better half time alternative to Auskickers and dare I say, the Grand Final Sprint?
WHERE’S WALTZING MATILDA?
Finally, the singing of “America, The Beautiful” before the Super Bowl is a wonderful moment of national pride and patriotism.
Makes me wonder, whatever happened to “Waltzing Matilda” before the Grand Final?
Imagine having Up There, Cazaly into Waltzing Matilda followed by Advance Australia Fair.
Talk about tingles up the spine!
And before you ask, don’t worry, the Americans would be well served taking on board some of the expertise of the AFL…
WHAT THEY CAN LEARN FROM US…
MOVE NFL HONOURS TO MONDAY
The NFL Honours recognise the best players in the league, including the MVP, but the event is the night before the Super Bowl!
It takes all the attention away from the top two teams in the competition less than 24 hours before the game.
The Monday night is far more palatable for an awards ceremony, and also allows the two competing teams to take part.
WHERE’S THE PARADE?
Everyone loves a parade, especially the Americans.
I mean, how good is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade?
But, where is the parade of Super Bowl stars for the fans to wish their players luck?
A new city every year, along with a new route. It would look fantastic.
MAKE A BANNER
The banner might be quintessentially AFL, but it signals the arrival of the team on the arena.
And the giant banners on Grand Final day are far superior to players just running on to the field behind a team flag.
Given how patriotic the Americans are, why do they feel the need to cheer players like Tom Brady and Jared Goff during the national anthem?
(For the record – Gladys Knight was absolutely superb with one of the best renditions of Star Spangled Banner I’ve heard).