Generational Fandom, Football's Return, and The Rings of Power

In this week's podcast, Professor Mike Lewis and I discuss the difference in sports fandom across generations found in Mike's recently released 2022 Next Generation Fandom Survey. We then discuss football's glorious return, NFL Week 1 storylines, and what public reception to The Rings of Power reflects about fandom. Listen to the full podcast here: Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. Transcript: Mike Lewis 0:02 Hey welcome everyone. Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast with Mike Lewis and Doug Battle brought to you by the Emory marketing analytics center. Doug, it was week one of college football and it's about to be Week One of the NFL you can't be happier. Doug Battle 0:22 I can't be happier it also it wasn't just week one. It was one of the greatest week ones I've ever seen. Appalachian State and UNC kicking it off with that noon game. And prior to that the backyard brawl between West Virginia and Pitt was a classic. And finishing off the weekend with of course the LSU. Florida State chaotic. Not even upset just college football at its finest. Complete chaos. They weren't good, but everyone was excited. It was awesome. I loved every second of it. Mike Lewis 0:55 I think we two's going to be a letdown. I mean, you know, something will come up. Week one was week one was week Doug Battle 1:02 is gonna be a letdown. But we like you said we've got NFL coming in. It's nothing's gonna top this last weekend of college football. It's hard to imagine it felt like March Madness. It really did. But your NFL starting on Thursday, of course with the rams and the bills. And you know, we talk a lot, Mike about sports app aesthetics, the kind of rising trend of apathy towards sports amongst my generation and the younger generation. But man, it seems this weekend like sports, we're back all the negativity surrounding college football as far as it's never going to be the same due to NIHL due to the expanded playoff that went out the door. And it was just sports at its finest sports fans at their finest I loved every second, like I said, Mike Lewis 1:48 Well, that brings us to our introductory topic, which is get some data from the next generation fan of survey that we we produce on an annual two years as annual right? So it's a tradition. So let me I'm gonna throw up a slide. So again, you know, we're adding more visual elements to the podcast, this stuff is all available on our YouTube channel, you know, a little bit more content. So let's go to the slide and then get into all sorts of good stuff actually happening in the world of sports. Okay, so Doug, the visual and again, you know, I don't know that we're doing this particularly smoothly, or if I'm doing it particularly smoothly. But like I said, you know, a part of the goal of this podcast has always been an element of like continuing education. So I, you know, I teach in a batch, a BBA program and MBA program, Masters of Science and Business Analytics. And this podcast is an effort to take some of that content and put it out there for the for the population for the general public. And one of the things we do is this annual look at where Phantom is at sort of like, to me, it's taking the pulse of a really important aspect of American culture, engagement with sports. And so I'll go through this this graph real quick. And then I'll let you react to it, because I know everyone has a reaction to this graph. So the survey, sir, look, basically ask questions to about 2000 2040 folks to be exact, from all different generations. So the baby boomers, Generation X, the millennials, and Generation Z, the figure that we're opening today with is a look at the percentage of each of those groups that says that proclaims that they're fans of sports, or basically says that they're completely disinterested. And so for Generation Z, well, only 33% of Generation Z claims to be sports fans, with a whopping 28% saying they're apathetic. As we move to the millennials, we go up to 41% fans, just 19% apathetic as we go to Generation X 43% fans 20% apathetic. And then as we go to the baby boomers, things actually dipped down again. 37% fans 25% apathetic. So Doug, you kind of tip your hat to that there's a lot of angst in the world of sports, about how are they going to acquire Generation Z as sports fans, and the data backs it up? That's that's a significant challenge. So I'll say one more thing on the launcher react. Yeah, a lot of excitement in the stadiums. A lot of excitement at the US Open. But is this just becoming sort of something that's almost a little bit niche or a little bit fringe right where there yeah, there's a ton of excitement. There's a lot of passion, but it's not it's not society wide? Right. You know, how many people are actually watching these things? is kind of the big question how many people are gonna watch them in the future? Okay, so dug, now's your opportunity. You tell me that tell me there's hope for Generation Z are telling me that I'm kind of pegging this accurately. Doug Battle 5:10 I think you're dead on Mike. I was speaking with a friend, kind of the type of guy you would typically think would be a sports guy, right? late 20s, early 30s demographic white male, you know, just classic sports demographic. And I was asking him about the NFL if he was keeping up with it if he was more of Mike Lewis 5:31 a question as you go into this, you know, anything is upbringing. What were his parents sports fans do? You grew up in a in a city with prominent team grew? Doug Battle 5:39 He grew up in Tennessee, so I think his parents were volunteers fans, Tennessee Titans, fans, you name it? And he would say yeah, if I had to pull for someone, it would be those teams. And when I started saying, Oh, well, they've actually you know, hidden and hookers coming back for Tennessee. That coaching staff is starting to build some momentum. He's like, Yeah, man, I don't really know what you're talking. I don't really keep up with it. I just if I'm gonna watch a game. That's who it is. But he was telling me, the only sports players that I keep up with are Juju Smith Schuster, and Odell Beckham Jr. Because I see them on Tik Tok. And those guys are funny, I like to watch them. They're entertainers. And so that gives you an idea. Of course, that is a small sample size. But that gives you an idea of where the head is at for a lot of people in Gen Z, as opposed to Gen X, who are baby boomers who grew up with these teams pool for these teams, lifelong fans will follow the team to the day that they die. Mike Lewis 6:34 Well, look, when I look at this data. In some ways, the results for Gen Z are not surprising. So much has been said that, in your anecdotal story about your friend from Tennessee, is the standard story right that Gen Z isn't interested in sitting down for three hours to watch a game. They are glued to their phones. And so they're falling social media tick tock. And I mean, I look I learned something today that Juju Smith Schuster is great on what do you say tick tock or Instagram? Doug Battle 7:04 I heard maybe, maybe it's not even his account. Maybe there's just videos of him, I have no idea. I am not like I identify more with Gen X and the baby boomers and how I follow sports. And so it's kind of weird, but I'm like a forerunner amongst millennials and Gen Z. I'll have to get on there and check it out. See what he's up to. I sound like an old man saying that. Mike Lewis 7:23 Well, but the other thing that I that I found striking about this data was the dip amongst the baby boomers. Right. And so the the real strength in sports fandom is in this millennial and Gen X groups, where there's, you know, the ratio of fans to apathetic is more than two to one. But you know, it's actually kind of close to one to one for Gen X for Gen Z, sorry. But when you get to the baby boomers, you start to see a lot of people not caring that fascinates me. And I really kind of, you know, it's one of those things that sort of motivates you to dig deeper, because I'm with you, the baby boomers came of age when sports fandom, especially for the male pocket side of the male population was very much standard. And I think the promise was always look, I'm a Cubs fan till the day I die, right? I'm a Georgia Bulldog fan to the day I die. So that softening in the baby boomers is almost as concerning to me as what's happening with Generation Z. Doug Battle 8:27 Yeah, and I think the baby boomers that I've spoken with about this week, we had actually somebody commenting on our Instagram recently saying their opinion, and it was that the politics, how political sports have become some of the things that are generational, in our culture, and in our society that come in that maybe the sports will cater to. It rubs the older populations the wrong way, often, and so take that for what it's worth. But I think that's certainly a factor with the older generations, particularly when it comes to the NFL, and to the NBA. Well, and I'll Mike Lewis 9:05 give you a little bit of speculation in terms of why I think it's such a dangerous thing. My baseball fandom, my dad was a Brit. So you know, there's not a lot of emphasis on American sports. And so it was really my my paternal my maternal grandfather in Pittsburgh. That got me interest. He's the one that took me to my first baseball game and Pittsburgh Pirates. And so, you know, part of me wonders is like, you know, what's, what I think is happening. And you know, I started getting my two cents on this much deeper conversations marriage, is that as entertainment has switched to the phone, right, watching Juju Smith on Tiktok apparently, that means it's moved away from a centralized TV, which means that it's become something more individualistic, and so these kind of generational forces to transmit the fandom them, being a father or grandfather, man, I gotta think those are absolutely crazy are getting more and more important. So if, you know sports has this issue of, they're kind of uninteresting to the younger group, and they're alienating the grandparents. That's a combination of things that I think is really just, it's got to be very worrisome to any, to any professional league. Doug Battle 10:25 It's got to be and I gotta add, I, you mentioned television, amongst my friends, people my age, the houses I've lived in over the years, very few people have televisions, and it's not because they can't afford it. They have iPads, they have MacBook Pros, they have far more expensive devices. But there's these kind of personal, less communal devices, or is when I go into, you know, my parents house, or I mean, my parents and their friends, there'll be you know, it's a two person house, they'll have three TVs in the house, there's more TVs than people. Oftentimes I see that I've been to houses where there's a TV in every house. And it's not a TV in every room rather, as is not the case at all, with with my generation. And I think that's certainly a part of sports consumption. And the apathy towards sports for a younger generation where it's just not on, it's not on, it's not that there's not access. It's just there's not the willingness to go out of your way to buy a TV and set up a cable or one of these live streaming services. Just to watch a three hour game when you could be on Tik Tok and have constant gratification. constant stimulation. Mike Lewis 11:41 Yeah, and portability. I think it's a huge factor in all this, this breakdown of this breakdown of making this an event that everything that you know, people gather to watch. Yeah. And frankly, you know, the only sport as we've talked, the only sport that's really still mainstream, or sort of mass market is the one that's more built for that. And that's and that's the NFL who did you watch the college football with? This weekend. Doug Battle 12:10 I had a friend who is more of an NFL fan, but he's a football guy. And he was excited footballs back, so he joined me to watch and you watch TV? Yeah, we watch on TV. But you know, the whole TV verse personal device thing, just, it also indicates this trend toward isolation. With the younger demographics, in my opinion, people are in the rooms on their personal devices. Even when people are in a room with other people, they're still completely isolated. They're in their own world, on their personal device. There's not this value of shared experience, like you were saying, which the TV of course, brings about. And it was it was nice to watch it with, you know, with a buddy and enjoy some football. Like, it was surprisingly difficult, though, I will say to get more and more people interested. Because that's that seems to be a struggle for me. When it comes to watching sports. Most people that I'm in circles with probably don't don't share the same enthusiasm. Mike Lewis 13:18 Okay, and you know, you use the word isolation, we could flip that around, and we could use the word community. Right. And dog weeds. Like I said, we just had week one. And there are these communities that form right how many people live in, you know, you think about some of these places, you know, Gainesville, Florida. I you know, I lived there for five, six years. Yeah, I think that's about 100,000. Person community. Athens is probably what 100k 150k. But somehow, some way and you know, there was always that joke that the when Nebraska Nebraska was playing that the third largest city in the state of Nebraska was the football stadium. And so you know, that one of the things that I think just drops off the page, you know, you sit down you watch a college football game, the excitement of the crowd, and the communities that form around these teams, the intensity of it. And it's, frankly, it's kind of a challenging thing. The first football game I watched the season was the fighting alumni in week zero, the take on take on the Wyoming cowboys, I believe. And I don't even know if it's like my mind plays tricks on me that, you know, the the games don't seem that fast. It doesn't seem like there's that electricity in the air. And that's where I sort of struggle with it, right? It's like, You're You're fooling yourself. There's not electricity in the air at any of these places. But when these SEC games start to go and buy SEC games, I mean, you know, LSU versus Florida State, Georgia versus Oregon. Notre Dame versus Ohio State, these there's a certain type of events in this where the excitement is off the charts. You know that that? That UGA game to sort of start the weekend for me? Wow. Right in black, I think I think it was a five 6000 Oregon folks in this stands in green. incredible passion, incredible excitement. I mean, that seems like it's the Super Bowl. Right? That that level of excitement for this crowd of I don't know. 75,000 in that in that dome? Doug Battle 15:33 Yeah. For those that were there, I think it probably felt like the Super Bowl. My family excluding me, all made it I was not able to attend the game. But I heard that the atmosphere was electric. Mike Lewis 15:44 That's cold, isn't it Doug? Did they send selfies to you? Doug Battle 15:47 yeah, they were sending them they were sending them my, my sister in law, my sister in law, and I were texting throughout because she was the other family member that was not able to attend. She's a nurse, she was working. And we were plodding away to you know, we're gonna go to the national championship, just me and her and send pictures to my brother and to my parents. Should Georgia make it but now it felt like the Super Bowl for those fans. And I know that they were they told me stories, you know, talking to them about the game. They talked to less about the game. And I said, How was it? You know, how, what was it like live? They weren't saying, Oh, wow. Well, the play were Stetson, you know, ran around and threw pulled a Johnny Manziel. Houdini play. They weren't talking about that they were talking, man. When there was that bad call. We were booing for 15 minutes. And when it came back from commercial break, could you still hear us booing we were booing we were screaming. There were these two fans again to fight. There was this, you know, I met this person. And they're actually from my, my hometown. And we connected because she knew so and so. Like it was you know, all they're talking about as a community aspect of sports, they eat that up, it is more than worth the price of admission. I know a lot of people my age would say, Hey, why would I spend this money to go to a game when I can have a better view on my couch? Or better yet? Why would I watch an entire game on my couch? When I can just get the highlights on my phone? It's diminishing returns? Right? It's a different mindset. It's a different mindset. Mike Lewis 17:10 I would say it's probably a different personality type. Yeah, right. I mean, there's there's some people that live and they gain energy from being part of those those crowds. And there's other people that almost, you know, kind of feel closed in, like, vaguely uncomfortable. But it's it's an impressive thing. And, you know, I will always hand it to you like the UGA folks it is truly one of the remarkable fan bases out there. In terms of college football week one, Doug, I don't know how many times we've seen this. And I remember I think I texted you. It's like, I would like to know, the like the one loss record of these matchups between top 10 teams when one is from the SEC. And one is from another power five conference. Because it seems like we see this a lot. And you know, the in particularly this week, the SEC really put and they really put the PAC 10 or the PAC I don't know what what do they call it back? Well, the Pacific five conference is really nice. Doug Battle 18:15 Yeah, they did. And it seems to be a trend over the years, we've got an of course this isn't packed well. But we got Alabama versus Texas this week. I think the media wants that to be a toss up in the minds of the public. But I think we all know deep down. We all have this expectation as to what's going to happen. Alabama almost every year, they play a top 15 team to start the season, whether it's Michigan, whether it's Clemson whether I mean, seen 100 times Virginia Tech, and wipe the floor with them. We saw that with Georgia and Oregon this weekend. Of course, Florida was in a tighter game with Utah, but pulling it out in Florida wasn't thought to be one of the top teams in the SEC. Of course, we'll see how their season plays out in Gainesville. Mike Lewis 18:58 Well, and you know, sort of looking ahead. I love the Alabama Texas Game next week. I absolutely love it. And I'll tell you, I'll tell you why. I love it. You know, Texas, obviously coming to the SEC. I would guess the Texas fans can't fathom why they are not Alabama. Right. When you think about the the nature of that state in particular, and the amount of talent that has historically come out of Texas. They probably look at Alabama and go, that should be us. Right. And so that is to me the most interesting game of I think it's easily the most interesting game of week two. But it's fascinating to me in terms of like the psychology of those two fan bases. Yeah, because in some ways, this kind of small state of Alabama. You know, I don't know, you know, a population of maybe a fifth of that of Texas, you know 10 Texas has, I don't know, what would probably tell you they have the best high school football in America. It is one of those states where the University of light, much like University of Georgia here, the University of Texas is the you in the state. You're one dominant power. And it's a team that struggled for. I mean, it struggled right? I mean, maybe that's just the best way to put it. Doug Battle 20:24 Yeah, Texas is a tricky one. To me. It's the same in basketball. I remember they brought on Shaka smart and thinking, wow, they're gonna be a powerhouse. This is a team that's had Kevin Durant, you know, they, they almost always have a first round pick on their basketball teams. In football. They've got such a huge talent pool. And yet they haven't been able to win championships in either sport, or really compete for championships in quite some time going back to Vince Young, which was a heck of a championship game. By the way, I'll never forget that one. But Texas fans, I think not only do they feel like we shouldn't be Bama, I think they think we are going to be Bama. And they probably feel this way with every new head coach. But this time I've talked to Texas fans, I was in Dallas not too long ago. They were telling me one fan was telling me and I had to I had to keep my lips shut. You know, I just took this but he said, Yeah, I mean, Georgia is alright, you know, they've got a really good defense. And Kirby smart, as long as he's there, they're gonna have really good defense. The difference with Texas is that we not only are going to have an elite defense, we've got Steve Sarkeesian. He's an offensive guru. He's a quarterback guru. We've got Archie Manning coming, we're going to have one of the best offensive in college football history to combine. So he was already talking as the last year's Georgia team, they were all right, but we're going to be that much better than then prior, you know, that's coming off at eight and four season or seven and five. I don't know what they were last year, they lost to Kansas. So I just sat there, I kept my lips shut. I was like, Alright, man. Good luck with that. But they may be you know, that fan and those thinkers may be in for a rude awakening against Alabama. Of course, I actually do expect Texas to be back at some point in the near future as they join the SEC, looking at how they've been recruiting. I mean, it's just a matter of time with a school like Texas. Mike Lewis 22:00 Yeah, but I mean, they're a fascinating one, right? Because it's been a matter of time for a long time now. But they are there an institution that has every advantage, right. I mean, they're in some ways, they're like Ohio State, right? They are. They are really, they're structured to be dominant. And it just hasn't happened. Doug, the other game that I'm absolutely looking forward to next week. Kentucky, Florida. Who would have thought? Doug Battle 22:30 Kentucky, Florida that's an they've given us some epic battles over the years. People are quick to forget that because Kentucky is thought of as a basketball school and of course, Florida's thought of as a football school but kintu I mean, in the SEC east, I think these are two and three right now. I think Florida fans feel like they can compete right now for a playoff spot. I don't know that Kentucky fans feel that way. But their goal ultimately is to compete in the east and a week to mash up between those two. Mike Lewis 22:57 Are you talking college football player? Doug Battle 22:59 I'm talking college football playoff. I think the Florida fans that I know are saying Anthony Richardson. He's Cam Newton. You know, we got this new head coach, Dan Mullen had been holding us back now that we have a smart coach and we've got an elite quarterback. And that fan base. I gotta hand it to him that or something man watching that game in the swamp. I was shocked that Utah hung in there as long as they could. It just seemed like it was so loud in that place that the other team would just implode. And I think ultimately that's what happened on the goal line where the one thing Utah couldn't do was throw the ball to the other team make a risky pass. And of course, it's so loud in there and that quarterback throws it in double coverage after an entire game of making smart decisions. Cost his team that stadium erupted the swamp. I think Florida fans think they're back. I think that Florida fans, if they beat Kentucky this weekend, they're gonna be riding very high. I think Anthony Richardson will be in the Heisman conversation at that point. And man, it's going to be a very interesting SEC East this year with Georgia of course looking dominant against Oregon, but Florida sneaking up on him. And again, Anthony Richardson and week one looking like wow, this guy really could be Cam Newton. Mike Lewis 24:12 Okay. Not sure if I should say the next thing. Okay. Doug Battle 24:18 One more thing. Can I say one more thing. So I gave a shout out to the Florida fan base. I just gotta say like, I've been wanting to do like a fan of the week type thing. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to do it during college football season. There's so many great fan bases this last week. Sometimes it's not just the Alabama's and the Georgia's that impressed me. It's like Appalachian State. Every time they pan to the crowd in that game. something bizarre was happening. People were just wild. And Appalachian State. Pittsburgh had some great fans in that backyard brawl. Some very memorable moments coming from the crowd and that game. I was just eating up watching the fans. I don't know if any sport benefits more from a presentation standpoint, then college football. From the shots on the crowd, you see so many sad fans. And I think people eat it up. I think it's part of the entertainment. And to piggyback off my own statement there. You know, when I was at Georgia and I used to get wild for the games, I was given tickets to the Rose Bowl and to the national championship because ESPN, they wanted the crazy fans in the stands. They wanted people who they could pay in the cameras to who they knew for a fact we're gonna be wild. And, you know, I don't know that you have to give people tickets for a lot of these, these programs. And of course, that wasn't the case at Georgia, it was more of a fortunate situation for me. But nevertheless, it's such a huge part of the product. And I just love watching the Florida State fan in the midst of all of the LSU fans or vice versa. The LSU fan in the midst of all the Florida State fans on that last play that they caught on camera. Just beautiful. It's like art. It's like art for sports fans. Mike Lewis 25:58 Oh, yeah. And even coming back to this UGA Oregon game. Yeah. I don't know what the right, the right the right way to describe it. But there's something awesome about seeing like that the happiness of the UGA fans. That's great. It's like you know the way it says all that old ABC show the the the the the something and the agony of defeat, right the I forget the words for the victory. Those Oregon fans, I mean, that was brutal stuff. I mean, just sort of standing there looking around going when's this gonna? When's this gonna end? They're totally decked out and fluorescent green on top of it. It's Doug Battle 26:42 just sitting there watching Man, this person. They flew from Oregon to Atlanta to watch that you know, to score three points against 49 It's, it's entertaining. I don't know how it is. And I've been the sad fan on the screen. I've been the sad fan. I've been the Stoke fan. I love watching both personally. But it adds something to the sport. You don't to me you don't see that. They don't get those crowd shots in the NFL. They don't get I mean, they do they get the excited fans you don't get so much bizarre happenings that they catch. I saw a girl in the App State game throw a beer on somebody just as the camera pan I saw a guy hitting his own head and his own head with a book because he was so excited. Just crazy people all over the country. Pittsburgh had this probably middle aged mom, lady just losing her mind on camera. It's glorious. It's I think everyone loves it and you couldn't you couldn't pay actors to perform as well as some of these fans do. Mike Lewis 27:43 Oh, no. And, and I think that's true. The you know, being able to see that the purity of these emotions is just a beautiful thing. And again, from the range of the absolute thrilled fans the thrill of victory to the you know, the whether they call them the defeat cobras or something, right, the fans that sort of tuck in and just cannot believe it's happening to him. Okay, so Doug, I'm gonna give you a hot take a terrible hot take. Doug Battle 28:09 All right, let's hear it. Mike Lewis 28:10 Okay. Stetson Bennett, for the Heisman scenario. Doug Battle 28:14 I don't think - I've been saying that since before the season. I don't think it's a hot take. Mike Lewis 28:18 If Georgia goes undefeated beats and let's say let's say goes undefeated and beats Bryce young in the SEC championship. And beats you know, number 15. For Florida Richardson. You know, in what are in the world's largest cocktail party, right? How does he not win it? I mean, you know, no one. You know, again, the entire storyline, the entire narrative about Stetson Bennett, for every game he plays on national TV will be that he was a walk on, and he left the program and he came back and he was the backup and he finally got in there. I think it's a possibility. Because Georgia looks dominant. Again. Doug Battle 29:02 Yeah. The amazing thing about the Heisman is more often than not, it's the best player on the best team or the quarterback on the best team. And there's also this tendency for people whether they want to or not to kind of pull from the last season so Stetson came off. I mean, his his playoff performance was absolutely remarkable the stats he put up against Michigan and Alabama. And so now he's coming off three, back to back to back games against top 15. Two we're taught for opponents in which you throw no interceptions. He's done nothing but touchdowns. He's had a high completion rate. And so it's like one game and it's like, he's two games ahead of everybody else in the Heisman race, I think. And so this offseason, I always felt like man if they if they get past Oregon in that first week, which to me, I didn't know that it was gonna be and anyone who listened last week knows I was a little bit more concerned than the next Georgia fan about that game. But if they get past Oregon in that first week, that you look at the schedule their favorites in every game. him. And then at that point, you got a guy coming off a national championship with this great story. He's incredibly marketable. He's got the NFL deals. He's very loved by the fan base. He's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He did the Good Morning America interview he's known. And you get him on an undefeated team with a good stat line. Yeah, it's hard not to put them in New York. And so it seems far fetched. Right. I mean, yeah. So, you know, I think, Bryce young and Anthony Richardson, and you know, they're probably the more spectacular players, and they'll probably have more spectacular showings. But like you said, if Georgia gets past Florida, and I think, you know, I think Stetson can be a finalist, even if they were to lose an SEC championship game coming off and undefeated year, but it is truly one of the great stories in all sports. So that's his, I mean, going back, you already said the whole, just imagine Mike Lewis 30:54 this scenario. He's sitting in New York, with two quarterbacks that he's beaten, you know, sitting next to him. I mean, it could be, you know, in some ways, the perfect all this the perfect end, okay. It's possible Doug Battle 31:09 that he could if you weren't, let's say that happens. Let's say he wins the Heisman does Stetson Bennett get drafted to the NFL, and if he doesn't see the first Heisman winner to not get drafted? Mike Lewis 31:24 Is he the first Heisman winner that was a walk on? I mean, I think Doug Battle 31:28 Baker Mayfield walked on. But, but who of course, every announcer will be quick to tell you, Stetson Bennett emulated Baker Mayfield going into that Rose Bowl game he was the scout team quarterback. So he was Baker Mayfield and was given a lot of credit for Georgia's defense to success because they felt as though they had played a similar quarterback. Mike Lewis 31:48 Okay, Doug, so you got your first Christmas present. Now you get your second Christmas presents the gift that keeps on giving us the gift that keeps on giving. You know, obviously too much to go through in about 1015 minutes here. I can give you my ideal. I can give you the my top five and I'll let you I'll give you my top five matchups in terms of the storylines and now let you react to these. Okay, sound reasonable? Fell NFL Correct? Yeah, yes. Okay. At number five. The Ravens versus the Jets. So Lamar Jackson without a contract extension, playing the Jets. Doug Battle 32:33 Yeah, I got that on my list as well. I'm curious to see if Zach Wilson plays in this game at at this point in time when we're recording it. It's up in the air. But of course we've got Zach Wilson who has been the offseason, breakout star and the NFL as far as his popularity amongst fans. The memes the stories and Lamar Jackson betting on himself turning down one of the biggest contracts because he thinks he can do better going into a contract year on he's been declining on your your QB metric Mike QB wins metric. I've got that on my list as well, Mike, I'm very much looking forward to it. And this goes to show I'm sure the other four will be this way. It's all about the quarterbacks that's all we're talking about right now. Mike Lewis 33:15 Yeah, well, I mean, especially to start the season in 100% Yeah, Jackson rolling the dice. I don't know that we've seen anything like this in a long time where a guy has apparently decided not to take 150 or $160 million going after the truly the big dollars out there. Unless you know Baltimore really opens up unless they back the Brinks truck up and they do it in a hurry. Okay, dug my number four and I don't think I'm gonna get I don't think I'm gonna get support on this one. Okay. Dolphins versus patriots. I actually have that to have versus Mac Jones Doug Battle 33:55 that's exactly why it's the Alabama bowl. It's you know, Matt Jones backed up to he backed up Jalen hertz as well. He was third on that team. And I know Alabama fans will be tuning in for that one. They're very proud of those quarterbacks representing the University of Alabama and the NFL. Feeling like their quarterback you Mack Jones got all the hype last year to has been hated on all offseason by the fans Tyree kill now playing with tua saying he's the most accurate quarterback in the NFL, Mack Jones looking to not have a sophomore slump but to take the next step after a huge first year in the same way that maybe Justin Herbert did. So we'll see what happens with those but I you know, it's a divisional game. It's to Alabama quarterbacks. It's gonna be fun. Mike Lewis 34:39 Yeah. And I'll add to that playing for maybe the second position in terms of being the the challenger to the Buffalo Bills. So I think of all just about all the quarterbacks to, oddly seems like he's in about the hottest seat out there. Right that he's very much under under the microscope. But in terms of what's going to happen this year, number three, Doug, this one's easy. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys. Tom Brady versus Dak Prescott. Doug Battle 35:12 Yeah, we're coming off a week where there's allegedly been trouble in paradise for Tom Brady. Maybe seems like he's not human on the field with how he's performed over the years. But now we're seeing Tom Brady publicly struggle with some family life, balancing football and that taking some time away from football. To me personally, it feels like the last dance it feels like there's going to be a documentary about Brady's last championship run. And it's going to start out with Hey, he had to miss all this time over family and coming back to football. I don't know that's just seeing football or seeing sports as story so much, you start to put together the rest of the story as it begins. That's what I'm seeing with Tom Brady. The Cowboys, of course, as always talented, maybe even favorites in the NFC East. But with Jerry Jones, they have not had that playoff success. Dak Prescott, they have not had that playoff success, looking to see if they can take the next step. I you know this game to me for them. It doesn't answer that question. i That question is not answered till the postseason, but they can certainly set the standard for their season. With a week one win over Tom Brady and the Bucs who have a shot at another Super Bowl run. Mike Lewis 36:27 Doug, I'd be shocked if there wasn't a documentary crew following around Tom Brady. I mean, I haven't heard anything about that. But that seems about the most obvious piece of programming. That should be under development. Like there's what would Netflix pay for that deal? Right? I mean, maybe maybe $100 million. You know, who knows? So I was curious if there was Doug Battle 36:50 if there's not mike on my by myself a camera and trying to make some connections down in Tampa and just start falling Tom around because I think you're onto something there but I'm sure the NFL NFL films already on that. They're great at storytelling. They're great at capturing these stories and creating legacies creating legends. Mike Lewis 37:09 Okay, number two, the Buffalo Bills, who I think are almost the sexy pic in terms of going to the Super Bowl and also producing and the next great MVP quarterback versus the Los Angeles. Los Angeles Rams. Doug Battle 37:30 Playing a baseball team. Yeah, a lot of people Super Bowl favorites right here. The bills coming out of the AFC rams out of the NFC. I feel like it rarely plays out that way. You know, rarely to the two teams who were favourites going to the season. Both make the Super Bowl, but it's going to be some entertaining football, just about the entire country is going to be locked into this one. I would imagine it gets some of the best Thursday night ratings we've seen Matt Stafford with some injury concerns saying that he's at full health. Josh Allen coming off a huge year near Super Bowl appearance. The bills are knocking on the door. They're right there. They have I know they don't rank well on Mike's fandom rankings. But they do have in my opinion, one of the most passionate fan bases and the NFL. I don't know that anyone hates the bills. Like you everyone who's kind of objective watches them and says man, I'd love to see that fan base. Get one I'd love to see them in the limelight. Mike Lewis 38:28 You know, I did an interview with a someone the rise. I think it's one of the buffalo publications talking about their fan base. And it is an interesting thing, right, that fan base does not perform well on the metrics related to revenues and social media. But you know, definitely kind of sort of common ground. I mean, you know, I'm with you. And we talked a lot about it's almost like the that fan base is someone that everyone likes, you know, because they're out there in the cold. They're, they're rambunctious. So that's a, you know that it'll be a fun story. One of the things I thought was interesting that the reporter brought up was the the comparison between the bills and the Jets fan bases. And again, I'm not from the northeast, but I thought that was an interesting. That was an interesting follow up question that there's three. There's three teams in the state of New York. And maybe there's some jockeying for number four number two, right, where the bills are better, but the Jets are better located perhaps. Doug Battle 39:28 Yeah. My counter to that would be that the bills think they're number one. I think the bills things are the number one fan base and football period, not just in New York. And so I think they think that, you know, the New York Giants and the New York Jets fans like how we think of the Cowboys fans, Mike Lewis 39:46 and you know what I need Doug, and I have no way of doing this. I need a new fan base ranking that just focuses on the top 1000 fans of each team. Doug Battle 39:57 Yes, and that's where the Bills would come in. Probably in first they would be... They'd be hard to beat. Mike Lewis 40:04 But what I mean, can you imagine that group of, you know, 30,000 people? I mean, that would be, that'd be a show. Okay. And then number one, and again, I'm alone on this one. But I think you know which game I'm the most fascinated by the San Francisco 40 Niners versus the Chicago Bears. I don't get any of this on the tray lands thing is one of my top stories going into the league into the season. I, I heard some, I mean, the stats they have on tray lands in terms of like how little activity how little few games he's played, and passes he's attempted since high school are truly remarkable. And then, of course, Justin fields will be a guy that, you know, I will never turn Justin fields off, because I just want to see how this story turns out. So you know, maybe this isn't really the same level of Allen versus Stafford or Brady versus Prescott. But this one strikes me is absolutely fascinating. Doug Battle 41:08 Yeah, the fella that I watched college with this week, is actually a 40 Niners guy and I spoke to him about trade lines. And so what are your thoughts on trade? Lance? He was saying, we think trade Lance, you know, we actually value that he hasn't played that much football, because he doesn't have these bad habits. He's I think the coaching staff views him as completely raw, completely malleable, and they can mold him into exactly who they want him to be. He's got a great skill set. He's shown nothing but good things in college at North Dakota State. And so that is the optimism behind tray Lance, there's actually a spin on it where this lack of experience is a good thing. Justin fields, of course, has had all kinds of experience at the University of Georgia at Ohio State. And last year for the bears mostly, you know, positive experiences prior to last year. Last year, not a good showing fields camp saying he's going to turn it around this year had a good preseason Chicago fans starting to give themselves hope again. It's a dangerous place to be a Chicago Bears fan with hope and faith in a quarterback. So we'll see what happens Mike, I'm surprised two honorable mentions that didn't make your list of browns Panthers and Broncos Seahawks simply because we've got the story of a player who just left one team in week one playing that same team on their field in the case of Russell Wilson, and of course the Panthers game will be in Carolina for Baker Mayfield taking on his old teammates. Mike Lewis 42:36 Okay, and this is and I think this is why I glossed over those. So number so number one, it's Sorry, what was uh, what was the first one? It's the Doug Battle 42:50 we got browns, Panthers and Broncos. Okay? Mike Lewis 42:54 I can't get excited about the Seahawks. So I mean, I'm with you. It's to me, it's a one sided story and in some ways, it's the same thing with Baker Mayfield in the Panthers. You know if if Deshaun Watson was playing, if the Seahawks had gone out and signed, you know, their their future quarterback, those definitely would have been up there as well. But these one sided stories, you know, just didn't crack my top five. Doug Battle 43:22 That is fair enough. Seahawks quarterback situation. I don't know what Seahawks fans, I don't know where their tickets are going for right now. And other stadiums. Incredible. I've been there. But I don't know how you have hope as a Seahawks fan with Drew Locke, Geno Smith, that as your quarterback situation. I thought they were going to make some move for somebody Jimmy G. Baker Mayfield nothing. They've got what they've got. They've got two quarterbacks when you have two quarterbacks. Often that means you don't have one. I think that's the case in Seattle. And Russell Wilson, I almost would imagine the Seahawks fans that go to that game are there to see Russell one last time. Mike Lewis 43:55 My My honorable man, I think you're right. My honorable mentions were actually the Chargers versus the Raiders. Because I you know, the the more I look at data, Harvard, I think is the guy. Oh, and you know, within that division, I think Herbert is going to leave car in the rearview mirror really quickly as their careers unfold. And then the other one was Patrick mahomes versus Kyler. Murray was my other honorable mention. But you know, again, it's the beauty of the NFL right? Nothing special about week one, right? There's no special scheduling. And we came up with 10 games that are really have compelling storylines to watch right? It is, it is the league and and I can't think of a single other league that comes anywhere close to that in terms of the everything feeling like an event, or sort of big story or something, something that you can't wait to watch play out, because it's sort of chapter one of a 17 chapter book Doug Battle 45:00 Yeah, one more interesting note is that we talked about these matchups, tre Lance vers Justin fields, it's not basketball, these players aren't actually going head to head with one another. But it's so it's interesting to me with football, how we, we get excited for to watch two players go head to head to determine, you know who's gonna be the better player who's gonna be the winning quarterback. And yet there, it's not really a fair fight because they're really going up against a different competition. It's not like watching Kobe versus LeBron, or LeBron versus Carmelo in those days, or Yanis versus whoever you know, yo kitch or whatnot. It's, it's Justin fields against the 40 Niners defense, and Trey Lance against the bears defense. But as football fans, it's Justin fields verse, Trey Lance. That's just an interesting tidbit for how fandom works in regards to football, and how the NFL is marketed. Mike Lewis 45:53 I mean, it's a small point, but you know how to maybe you could have a similar situation in baseball with, you know, a couple of pitchers squaring off against each other, where they're not really facing, they're not facing each other at all in the American League. But it is a good point. And almost every other sport, there's much more direct competition between the between the stars, okay, dug to wrap it up. The big thing in pop culture, beyond sports this week, was the long awaited release of the Rings of Power. Doug Battle 46:30 So long awaited by who? Well, Mike Lewis 46:33 I mean, they started with last Super Ball, right, they had the pain, and they got hammered on YouTube very quickly. The I'm not even gonna get into a review of the review of the show. I mean, in some ways, in some ways, these reboots kind of all feel the same, where they take this classic property, and they adjust it for more modern sensibilities. And then you've got the traditional fan base, incredibly upset that they've broken with tradition, you have the I guess the the critics and the the new fan base, that then starts telling the old fan base that they're thankful for this exercise over and over and over again. I ended up watching readings, a lot of the commentary on Twitter, and it's like, you know, it doesn't matter. It's like every one of these kind of classic properties that's, I guess, reformatted for modern sensibilities. Also, I'll try and keep it neutral creates the same reaction. So here's my question to you, Doug. And you can you can expand on on the actual programming, it's a beautiful programming, right? I mean, it looks like a, you know, a billion dollar movie. That's a TV show. But my question to you is, in this era, of kind of taking this classic material, and it being reformulated? Is any of this going to be memorable? Is any of this kind of have staying power? So I mean, and I people might argue if I call it art, but is any of this art going to be something that resonates into the future? I mean, the token books are timeless, timeless, with, you know, decades and decades and decades of history, even before The much loved substantial fan base before the the trilogy of films. You know, one of the things one of your favorite fandoms, Star Wars goes back to, you know, the mid 1970s. Is any of this stuff that's being created now or reimagined now going to be something that people are talking about and in 30 years, or is it going to be something that is kind of forgotten? And then sort of they you know, someone will take another run at expanding the Tolkien universe. And we just won't talk so much about the Rings of Power. Doug Battle 49:17 You know, if I had to make a prediction, I would say that second, that second option there, it seems to me, these, you've mentioned what it was, are an argument as to whether or not it was hard. I think visually, it's definitely our it's gorgeous. Like you said, of course it's hard not to be when you're set in New Zealand, Mike Lewis 49:36 don't just like you know where I'm coming from. Yeah, I mean, I don't know who you know, I think if you go back and you look at let's say the films that when the Academy Awards throughout a decade, like the 70s Yeah, many of them are largely forgotten. But if you look at what resonates over time, like the movies, people still remember, you know, like, I think Rocky did win the Academy Award. I don't think Star Wars did, but you know, to Mi those are the things that are actually are the things that resonate. So you know, in some ways, I mean, you're too young for but every guy of my generation can, you know, quote, Caddyshack lines for Batum. Right, but half that movie. So I tend to view the things that become part of the popular culture as actually, you know, a form of art that is actually kind of important, the stuff that is remembered. Doug Battle 50:28 Yeah. And somebody was asking me, you know, what would you review the first two episodes because I watched them. And I told him, I said, visually, it's gorgeous. It's, it's hard not to be, it feels like Lord of the Rings, and the sense of, they've got the music, they've got the that kind of majestic air to the hills, and I got Mike Lewis 50:51 too much of it. Well, every time this dramatic music, Doug Battle 50:58 my next comment was, I don't know that I care about any of the characters. And I think that's the hard thing. When you take these properties, and you introduce new characters, we saw that recently with Star Wars with Obi Wan, introducing Reva, who was very controversial, but you know, turn into a race issue. But fans of the old properties are fans of the characters, they feel connection to these characters, when you just take that same world and put different characters. And it's like, if you made a new James Bond movie, and didn't have James Bond in it, v would have a spy in it, you just have another person that coexist in the real world, the United States and say, hey, it's in the James Bond universe. That's how it feels to a lot of fans when the characters are not part of it. And the other thing that can be an issue, of course, what we've seen with stars is when you take those characters, and you don't use them in the same way that they were used before, or you do things with them, that don't feel native to their character. So it's very, very tricky playing around with these beloved franchises. I think to a lot of fans, it feels as though you don't want a piece of art in the hands of a huge corporation because someone like Amazon, someone like Disney, they take this, they view it as a cash cow, it is a cash cow, it's a product for them, and they find ways to market it and they get people like me to watch it. And I watch it, you know, and so it doesn't really matter what I think about it, if enough people watch it, it generates revenue, doesn't really matter how its perceived. It's not the same as someone like Tolkien, where this is his life's work. This means something to him. Okay. And another aspect that really hasn't been discussed much with Lord of the Rings and The Rings of Power, is the religious aspect of the Lord of the Rings, I think plays a huge part in its significance to a big portion of its audience. I don't know what Amazon's stances on that. But I would imagine it's pretty neutral. And I would imagine that takes a lot of the magic away. For a lot of people who see a deeper significance in these stories in these characters. That's out the window. That's what drew a lot of people to Lord of the Rings in the first place. I did a research paper in high school on that, specifically with Lord of the Rings and with CS Lewis, and some of his works. And so you take that out of the way for me personally, there's not the magic. I'm still waiting for the story. But my takeaway from the first two episodes somebody asked me like, you know, once in it's what do you How would you sum it up? And I said, feels like Game of Thrones without the sex. Okay, Rings of Power. Yeah. I want to love it. By the way, I'm, and I'm still hoping I'm gonna keep watching. I'm gonna see if you know, if it draws me in at some point. It's slow. But Lord of the Rings is also pretty slow. So you have to remember that this isn't Stranger Things. It's not a thriller. So it might take a while to develop, and I'm still giving it a chance. But those are my concerns. Mike Lewis 53:49 Well, I think, you know, I think there's multiple things going on that cause some of the some of these fan backlash is right, because we're two episodes in but we're also two hours in two plus hours in. That's a film. And it's Yeah, and not much has happened. It's all been sort of, Doug Battle 54:10 you know, introducing. Yeah, yeah. Mike Lewis 54:13 But, you know, when you're talking about some of the elements, the theological elements of Tolkien's work. I think that stuff matters. And I don't think people actually, you know, when when a lot of this stuff is being Rhian reimagined and adjusted for more. You know, and again, in some ways, I kind of hate this stuff, because we always found find ourselves kind of trying to find the right word to not offend. But these fan bases are built around this bodies of work. And people love these bodies of work, right? They absolutely love them. They know it especially like Tolkien. There are people that write PhD dissertations on Tolkien's work right? They are You know, they love this, they understand it, they think deeply about it. Then the corporation comes in and essentially says, Well, you know, there are elements of this that are not appropriate racism, sexism, blah, blah, blah. So we have to start to change it. And once you start to change that body of history, it's kind of it would be almost more surprising if you didn't get the negative reaction. And so, you know, there's sort of a structural problem, that people are going to change things in a way that's going to alienate people that love the history, because essentially, they're saying the history has to be changed to be acceptable. And the second thing I think, that really harms the fan base is at this point, is they all expected at this stage. Right? When the new Star Wars is coming out. The fan base kind of knows what's going to happen, right? And so the the starting point is almost like, Oh, God, how's Bezos and Amazon going to screw up the Lord of the Rings? Right? And then they start to see that okay, so L Ron is a warrior. You know, he's in the battles. He's fighting with a sword in the in the films but now L Ron is a diplomat. diplomat, Galadriel was a sort of a high priestess, sorceress in The Lord of the Rings. Now she's a warrior. And it just, you know, it's not fair to not expect, I think the traditional fan base is to react. And again, in some ways, it's kind of painful to watch this stuff play out, because am I wrong? If I say all of this was incredibly predictable, Doug Battle 56:45 it's predictable. It's the same, it feels exactly like Star Wars, to me. And you're having the st. You're having the race debates, you're having the sexism debates, I've read articles on both sides of that just purely out of curiosity as to what two people are saying. And it's the same exact things they were saying about Star Wars, you know, is the fan base is being labeled one thing there's, I read an article questioning, wait a second, you know, the original Lord of the Rings was all white was JRR, Tolkien a racist and diving into his history and whether or not we should cancel Tolkien based on, you know, a film that was made about his books. And, and so it, it goes to show I don't know, our society is where it is, the way that these properties are being made, we pretty much know how they're going to be made. We know how the original fans are going to react. We know how maybe people who weren't originally fans, but who are who view themselves as kind of the police for the current values are gonna react to that. And then it's just this culture war that is never ending. Mike Lewis 57:54 And then you layer on to that. And I think this is the thought. And like, I don't actually even know if the the economics of what I'm gonna speculate workout. In some ways, it's kind of strange what they're doing, right? Where they take this core property, this piece of art, and then they change it, right? I mean, it would seem like a more common sense approach would be, well just create your new art, right, just start from the ground up, rather than, essentially change something. And so then you can only then you start to get into some real cynical kind of marketing is the idea that we take this, we take this property, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, with this massive brand equity in this awareness. And that's all we're buying is the brand equity in the awareness. And then we create something very Game of Thrones like, right, because Game of Thrones was very successful in terms of getting beyond, let's say, the core fantasy. And then of course, I fight type audiences to a very kind of broad and very female, heavy, heavy demographic. Is that the play because if that's the play, that's very cynical, to you know, the folks that truly love and study talking. Doug Battle 59:11 Yeah, and since you bringing up Game of Thrones, I think that market is getting a bit saturated Game of Thrones with that kind of medieval legend mythology show. Of course, broke records of course made a lot of money since that we've seen Apple TV come out with their own competitor and the same type of world same type of characters, same type of music, et cetera. Now Amazon getting in on it, Game of Thrones doing their own spin off. inconveniently for for the Lord of the Rings show coming out at the exact same time. That's got to be tough. I'll be driving and I see billboards for the house of Dragon right next to a billboard for the Rings of Power. Seems like it'd be the same audience. From what I've heard so far, I think the Game of Thrones fans are enjoying their property their product a lot more than the Lord of the Rings, fans are enjoying the Rings of Power. Not not great timing. It's like when Obi Wan came out the same time as the new season of Stranger Things, and people like myself would watch them back to back. And like one significantly more than the other to the point of becoming completely frustrated with Disney. Mike Lewis 1:00:30 Okay, my last word and unless you have a last word, too, is that Amazon has announced that they've set all sorts of records with the again, I keep screwing up the name of this the Rings of Power with 25. I think they said 25 million streams. So in some ways the number is the number is healthy, right in Winky, because when you're talking about 25 million folks watching something, you're talking about, you know, the maybe the World Series plus the NBA championship, or, you know, add the, or throw the Oscars in there and sort of pick two out of the three. So the Lord of the Rings much hyped Amazon runs a billion dollars to run this thing. Now, of course, on the other side of this, this has got to succeed, right? If Amazon Studios doesn't succeed with this, then I'd have to think that Amazon is going well, why do we have Amazon Studios if we can't come up with a hit for you know, using the Lord of the Rings as the source material. So this is, you know, it's a tough thing to talk about, because again, it just ends up in the middle of the culture wars. But this was a fun one to watch in terms of you know, as a, as someone that looks at fandom and looks at how the culture is evolving. Yeah, Doug Battle 1:01:51 my concern for Amazon, and for the Rings of Power franchise, since that's what it is now, is that this is this reminds me of when a sports team looks around the league and says, Okay, some of the top performing teams, or they're out spinning us, they're going out and getting better players, they're spending more money on coaches are spending more money on their talent. They're investing more. Okay, so what we're going to do, and I remember the Brooklyn Nets doing this, we're going to take guys that are on the market, who may or may not be as good as the players, those other teams have, and we're gonna pay them even more money, rent and pay those. I remember the nets giving Travis outlaw they missed out on LeBron, they gave Travis outlaw huge contract. They gave an ageing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams enormous contracts, the thinking was, and McHale Procore off was the owner at the time that they could buy their way to a championship that they could, there's no way to fail when you spend that much money. I feel like Amazon is taking that approach with the Lord of the Rings, where the focus is on hey, we're going to spend a billion dollars on the show that's going to be the biggest budget for any television show in history. It's gonna be visually stunning. People are gonna tune in everyone already has an Amazon Prime account. And right now, of course that number looks good, Mike, you know what number doesn't look good is the fan ratings on Rotten Tomatoes on IMDb, which had been put on pause by the way on IMDb, which is owned by Amazon, there's concern that there might be fans putting multiple bad reviews from one fan, and altering or making the reviews look worse than they are, of course, that can be viewed as just review censorship. So we'll see how that plays out. But Amazon desperate for good optics here, not off to a great start after the first week of the Rings of Power. Mike Lewis 1:03:45 Okay, Doug and I were about the our points, so I think it's time to wrap it up. So as always more content at www.fandomanalytics.com. Please Like, Subscribe. And again, please check out the material on YouTube as we try to move towards this more visual format with a little bit more data and you get to see us as well. So until and look, Doug the thing I'm looking forward to is next week. I'll have some data. My competition, though, you know, it's like my competition though. ESPN and nfl.com don't know they're in a competition in terms of forecasting methodology versus their simulations. I'm looking forward to that. I'm incredibly overconfident. I'm not going to adjust my forecast for the Cleveland Browns. Wow. I'm not going to forecast San Francisco 49ers. All right, entering this competition with a level of undeserved arrogance.

Generational Fandom, Football's Return, and The Rings of Power