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July 13, 2014, 1:37 am

Blacks not playing in Superbowl’s economic game

It’s Superbowl Sunday and, as a business professional, my first thought is not about whether the Baltimore Ravens’ defense can shut down the San Francisco 49ers’ potent offense. No, as hard it may be to believe, I don’t even give a whit about whether Beyonce is going to break down and actually sing her own songs, at half-time, or whether she will, once again, opt to do a 21st-century “Milli Vanilli,” before 110 million viewers.

No, every time I think of the Super Bowl, I think of the money that is being made from the event. The advertising revenues, the ticket prices scaled for “the 1 percent,” the food and beverages that will be purchased, and the tax write-offs that 35 percent of the attendees/party-goers will claim.

For me, as an African-American businessman, it makes me a little sad, at this time each year, to realize that Black players will constitute about 75 percent of the Super Bowl’s participants, but that there is precious little evidence, that Black-owned businesses, or business owners, will generate significant revenue opportunities, from the big game, on any level.

It’s not as if there is not enough money to go around, at the Super Bowl. Indeed, it’s estimated that for last year’s game, TV revenues, based on counts of the eyeballs of 111 million viewers, were a record-setting $250 million. That’s what you get, I guess, when you charge $3.5 million for each 30-second TV commercial.

How much of that money was generated by, or placed through, black-owned advertising agencies? How many promotional dollars for the game, itself, or for advertising related to the game, were spent in African American-owned media outlets?

Shouldn’t we “curb our enthusiasm” about the wonderfulness of the Super Bowl, just a bit, until we get some answers to those questions, or better yet, until we get some meaningful participation in those revenues?

Are we a part of the reason that the network can charge $3.5 million for each Super Bowl TV spot? As Sarah Palin might say, “You betcha!”

Take the 2010 Super Bowl, for example. Of the total $106.5 million TV viewers for that year’s game, overall, Blacks represented 11.2 million people, or 10.5 percent of the total audience. Based on that, one might reasonably conclude that, without the Black audience, each Super Bowl 30-second spot would have generated 10.5 percent, or $283,500, less revenue. That means that the $151 million in TV revenues, that year, would have been about $15.8 million less, without those 11.2 million Black viewers.

I don’t know — that sounds like big money to me. Did Black businesses share in any of that?

That’s the kind of stuff I think about.

Hey, in between the Super Bowl’s exciting kick-off returns, crisp passes and jarring tackles, as an entrepreneur, I just can’t help but reflect on the fact that, each year, during the Super Bowl, about 8 million pounds of popcorn and 28 million pounds of potato chips are consumed.

How about the fact that about 1 billion chicken wings “bite the dust,” during each Super Bowl, and more than 325 million gallons of beer are guzzled?

With the fact that overwhelmingly high percentages of African Americans now live in what are now called “food deserts,” or areas where there is an absence of large grocery stores, chances are great that, even when Blacks did buy some of those chips and wings, they didn’t buy them from an African-American business.

But, there’s more. In recent years, more than $11 billion has been spent on Super Bowl-related purchases. And, if Backs are 10.5 percent of the Super Bowl audience, then we are probably good for about $1.2 billion of that total. How many Black retailers are able to sell official Super Bowl hats, shirts, banners, tablecloths, or hoodies, into that overall market? How many Black buyers of such items are seeking out African-American businesses to make their purchases?

That’s not all. Now, we get to the “Best Buy” part of the story. Last year, it was estimated that Super Bowl fans, anxious to watch the game with the newest, latest equipment, bought 5 million new TVs, in preparation for the day’s activities.

How many Black-owned stores are selling those flat screens? How many African Americans are equity owners in Best Buy?

Not many?

So, I guess, with all the Super Bowl euphoria, and all the billions of dollars passing hand-to-hand, Black Americans, once again, are not even involved in the economic part of the “big game.”

Someone estimated that at the 2011 Super Bowl, about 600 private jets were employed to fly the big spenders in and out of the city where the game was played. Tickets to that game were selling online at a price ranging from $2,100 to $2,300, each, and some tickets actually wound up going for prices as high as $15,000.  Hey, if you wanted to bring along a few of your closest friends and watch the game from a field-level luxury box, the rental of that box would cost you $650,000.

I wonder how many African Americans were flying in on those jets — or even better — how many were selling or leasing those planes to the deep-pocketed fans.

Not many, again?

You’re probably right.

Now, I’m not saying that the NFL has not made any progress, at all, in the area of off-the-field, executive suite inclusion, because they actually have.

Look, according to the Institute for Diversity in Ethics and Sport, the National Football League now employs 11 “people of color” at or above the vice president level.

There are now 13 people of color working as vice presidents on the 32 NFL teams. At the same time, of the 32 teams, absolutely none has an African-American majority owner, and 31 of the owners happen to be males.

Can you spell “old boy’s club?” I thought you could.

If 75 percent of the Super Bowl players are Black, shouldn’t that community be more focused, now, on gaining majority ownership of a few of those teams, whose values recently have risen as high as $2.1 billion, for the Dallas Cowboys?

Wouldn’t it seem that African Americans, who are already among the most loyal and avid football fans in the country, anyway, would enjoy Super Bowl Sunday even more, or at least as much as their peers of European descent, if they knew the game was also putting money in their own families’ pockets?

It’s not like I’m not interested in the exploits of the Ray Lewises, Vernon Davises and Ray Ricees, who will actually be playing in this year’s Super Bowl. I just think it’s time for us to take more interest in emulating the Jeffrey Luries, the Jerry Joneses, the Jim Irsays and the Robert Krafts, who actually own the teams, and the player contracts, and make the lion’s share of the money from the game we love so much.

As much as economically marginalized African Americans think they currently enjoy the Super Bowl, I strongly believe they would enjoy it infinitely more if they actually shared in the game’s enormous economic benefits.

I don’t know. That’s what’s usually on my mind each Super Bowl Sunday.

What will you be thinking about?

 

A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management, Inc.