One of my favorite radio hosts on ESPN is Colin Cowherd. He’s honest and pragmatic and really has no interest in pleasing other people. His opinions are brash and bold and many times I disagree with his point of view. But several days ago, when it was announced that starting in 2014, the NFL draft is going to be pushed to early May he brought up a fascinating point. The date of the draft isn’t the change that this event needs. In fact, beyond 2014, there is nothing finalized that would indicate the draft wouldn’t move back to its original slot. No, what would help this event is if the location of the draft moved every year.
The event that is the NFL draft is massive. In fact, it’s the biggest event in all of sports that doesn’t actually involve a sporting competition. Around 6.2 million viewers watched the Thursday night 1st round in 2012. That’s tremendous for an event that essentially amounts to a bunch of tables, helmets and phones and NFL fans all over the world sitting for hours waiting to hear which college football prospect their favorite team is going to select. The city of New York has hosted the draft and up until now, I honestly hadn’t given it much thought as to whether it’s a good or bad thing until Cowherd’s comments.
But the reality is the draft is an event for the fans of all 32 teams. The Super Bowl gets moved around every year to accommodate fans, so why should the draft only be hosted in the city of two NFL franchises? As Cowherd pointed out, “the draft could be held at a rest stop”. That might be overstating the point, but the premise remains. Any NFL city can host the teams and athletes and media that attend, and if the league moved the event to correspond with the team that holds the no. 1 overall pick, it would be a tremendous reward for the fans of that team.
The location of the draft doesn’t have any impact on the draft itself. Ratings will be huge regardless of where it’s held, and giving so many more fans the opportunity to view the event in person would be a boon for the league and likely make them buckets of money. We all know the NFL loves to make buckets of money. This is the time for this idea. If the league wants to expand the appeal of the draft even more, moving it to the host city of the team with the top pick is a great step in the right direction.