From the Cheap Seats: The NFL in the Era of Short Attention Spans


Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This scientifically proven fact has a major impact on the way the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization and all NFL teams operate. How short are those attention spans? According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span is an unbelievable eight seconds. Time Magazine even published a controversial neuroscience article telling us that even goldfish have a longer attention span.

Headline Readers

This is the era of “headline readers”. Statisticians even tell us that eight out of ten people gather information and form opinions based on article headlines. This is very true with content geared towards the NFL and its clubs. Only two out of 10 read the contents of the article for understanding, but what does that ultimately mean other than the fact that only two out of 10 of you are actually reading these words?

Teams have to fight to hold the interest of fans more and more each day. The digital era has brought with it a flood of stimulus which makes distraction an almost unavoidable part of everyday life. Millennials have embraced and learned to process this constant barrage of information and see it as a normal part of life. Older generations navigate these changes differently, and this poses a challenge to NFL teams.

Awards off the Field

The Buccaneers quickly adapted to the digital era and have won awards for fan engagement and their website. The team learned quickly how to deliver information through various digital channels. They also created a new and more engaging fan experience inside the stadium. Moving images, giant video screens, and even audio attention grabbers hop on you the moment you step foot into Raymond James Stadium.

Shorter attention spans have affected the game on the field and the Buccaneers may have been impacted negatively with actual wins and losses. Quick coaching and player changes to keep fans engaged can keep a team and players from fully developing. Quick coaching changes may help fan engagement briefly, but they are quick fixes that don’t last long if you are not careful. Ask Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith, and Dirk Koetter. Changing coaches every two years keeps fans engaged on social media, but does it translate to wins on the field?

On The Field

It is exciting to have Tom Brady suit up as a Buccaneer with Rob Gronkowski. Two years from now, where does that leave the team? Bruce Arians is at the very end of an impressive career. Once again a change in coaching is coming soon.

The Buccaneers look poised for a quick and brief Super Bowl run, and maybe the coaching staff is stacked enough to survive the inevitable change that is coming. Who cares, but eight seconds from now things will be different. That doesn’t really matter to most people, anyway. Science proves that and really, only two out of ten of you are still reading this and hanging out with me…in the Cheap Seats.