Every postseason college bowl game has its own personality, its benefits, its special touches. Each of the 41 games in 33 communities strives to promote the game of college football, while at the same time placing a spotlight on their cities and their citizens and benefiting local charities and organizations.
It’s a tall order, one that is filled each and every season.
The bowls have an ally – the Football Bowl Association.
The non-profit organization – as many of the bowls themselves are – was established to help build upon the traditions of the bowl games, and bring to light the many benefits of the games beyond the playing field and parades and other activities. Just as bowl games bring a uniqueness to college football, the FBA places a spotlight on the distinctiveness of the games and their history and traditions.
The FBA takes the lead in protecting the games, while embracing and honoring the bowl experience for present and future generations.
With college bowl season quickly approaching, tensions run high for the teams selected to play in the 41 bowl games. Practice is being packed in for preparation of the match-ups to begin Dec. 17, but while teams have the opportunity to provide a last round of entertainment for the season, they also have the opportunity to partake in the full bowl experience.
College bowl games provide the opportunity for fans, teams and communities to find a unique experience differing from that of a regular season game.
Fan attendance and devotion to regular season games are somewhat of a staple during the fall, but what better way to show devotion to one’s team than by travelling to cheer on the players while they are rewarded for their hard work throughout the season?
The 41 bowl games aim to create a unique experience for the fans that travel and show support beyond the regular season games.
Unlike regular season games, bowl games often feature fan events leading up to kickoff.
Similar to the fans’ opportunity for a unique experience, coaches and players focus endless amounts of time and effort all season toward the chance at a college bowl game as a reward for their hard work and dedication. Teams spend roughly a week at the bowl game destination before the actual game takes place, and during this time all sorts of activities are scheduled, as well as a little free time.
University of Alabama freshman linebacker Rashaan Evans famously told an ESPN reporter in December 2014 that the best part of the team’s Sugar Bowl experience was living it up on Bourbon Street.
As freshman players, apparently rightfully so, typically stay out of the spotlight and press during this time, senior players are experiencing bowl games as potentially their last opportunity to suit up and step onto the field. The 2014 Military Bowl luncheon featured keynote speaker Col. Greg Gadson highlighting just this fact, and reminded players in attendance of the opportunities that college football has created for them. Hanging up their helmets can be an emotional time, and players strive to receive a bid for that final game where they can showcase their hard work and perseverance.
Although many of the bowl games occur in cities largely visited, teams often find themselves selected for a bowl game in a not-so-typical location. Two years ago, the Bahamas hosted its first-ever Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. The Western Kentucky and Central Michigan teams were welcomed with a party at the famous Atlantis resort upon arrival, as well as a beach bash the following night, offering players time for relaxation and fun, all with views of the Caribbean. The opportunity to attend the Bahamas Bowl may have provided the teams with an additional game to showcase their talents, but it also provided a chance for players to experience a location they may not have otherwise been able to visit. They experienced the culture, community, and island as a whole, all as a result of the driving passion they displayed throughout the season.
Aside from the lighthearted activities available for the teams, players have the chance to give back and become involved in the host communities. From hospital visits to serving at food banks, the players get to learn about a cause important to the community while returning the favor of the opportunity provided to them.
The Nebraska football team spent the Sunday a day prior to their 2015 Foster Farms Bowl face-off volunteering at St. Anthony’s Dining Room, a shelter in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Players spent time serving and delivering meals, as well as preparing food and busing tables. St. Anthony’s has served poor and homeless residents since 1950, and this activity provided players with the opportunity to experience this district’s decades old refuge.
With positive ways to give back to the community, players show a deep appreciation for the opportunities provided to them through their bowl game attendance.
According to the National Football Foundation, the 2015 bowl season attracted 1,567,447 fans overall, approximately 44,123 per game. For the communities hosting the bowl games, these fans bring with them their wallets. The visitors to the city come out in full force, spending money on food, shopping, attractions and more.
The 2014 AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis drew a crowd of 51,282, and Memphis reaped the benefits. According to Harold Graeter, Associate Executive Director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the economic impact is somewhere in the range of $20.0 to $25.0 million. Not only do fans bring in revenue, but also businesses generate secondary spending in order to support the incoming flow of money.
Similarly, the 2014 Valero Alamo Bowl generated $45.9 million in total economic impact, up from $32.4 million in 2013.
Numbers do not lie, and with stats like that, bowl games do not fall short of proving their worth to the community. Whether it be a small town or a large city, bowl games generate spending, create jobs and provide a lasting impact on the host communities.
In the same way that communities reap the benefits of the games, teams and fans find unique experiences and opportunities with the attendance of bowl games. The 41 bowls provide countless opportunities for fans, teams and communities alike to come together and experience a gift during the holiday season— a celebration of the passion they have all invested in throughout the year.
Follow @collegebowls on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest bowl information and the impacts of each game. Enjoy the bowl games and be a part of what makes each bowl #biggerthanthegame.