Sports Boom Trumping Politics

There is simply no sign that football’s preeminence in America will slow one bit. Not even the future of the country takes precedence.

Consider that NBC won’t cover the Democratic convention one night in order to air an NFL game. Then, on Oct. 22, a Presidential debate will go head-to-head with a “Monday Night Football” game.

(The NFL didn’t do President Obama any favors with its scheduling. And it’s not clear what the Commission on Presidential Debates was thinking with its calendar, but it could be accused of dereliction of duty.)

It’s not just football that continues its popularity spread, but sports in general. TV programmers seem to feel the hunger for sports is close to insatiable. And, they might just be right.

New sports networks from a suite focused on the Pac-12 networks to another emphasizing soccer have sprung up this month and more announcements are surely coming. Does the content beget the interest or the other way around?



Sports have always offered a refuge. The cliché is they are the toy department, an escape. And there is something inherently exciting about competition – whether cricket in India or curling in Manitoba.

But is something else going on boosting popularity in the country? Is the prolonged recession battering people so much an escape through sports seems more appealing? Is the red state/blue state political gridlock accentuating that quest as well?

It sure seems that way. For even drama re-runs are trumping politics. The New York Times reports CBS is planning on airing a repeat of “Hawaii Five-O” on Monday in place of the first night of the GOP convention. NBC and ABC will also take a pass on political spin.

It’s startling that just one of the networks wouldn’t air the convention as a counter-programming maneuver to boost the profile of its news division, but it speaks highly of how low interest in politics has fallen.

When it comes to national health care or the National Football League, which one has more appeal? Politicians wish debate questions were that easy.

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