The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in the United States. North of the border is a completely different story, where the NHL dominates pro sport popularity in Canada.
However, the NHL has strongly increased in following, attendance, and revenue in the past 10 years, and it could be debated that it's the second most lovable sports league in America right now.
Even if that's not the case, the NHL is on track for it. But that doesn't mean that the Stanley Cup Playoffs will overtake the NFL Playoffs by any means. More specifically, it's hard to envision a scenario where the Stanley Cup Final becomes a bigger deal in America than the Super Bowl.
Though the Stanley Cup is over 100 years old and has been won by American teams every year since 1994, the 50-year-old Vince Lombardi Trophy generates over 100 million viewers in the U.S. each year, so there's no reason to think the popularity will decline at all.
This isn't bad news for the NHL: As we said, the NHL is only growing more popular every year, thanks to superstars like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews saving their respective teams from perennial embarrassment to Cup contenders.
There are many reasons why Americans prefer the Super Bowl over the Stanley Cup, and here we will examine all of them. I know it's hard for die-hard NHL fans to accept, but it's just not going to overtake the Super Bowl's audience any time soon.
So here are those reasons why the Super Bowl is more important than the Stanley Cup in America.
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15 Predominantly American Athletes
The NHL is nearly 50 percent Canadian players, with close to a quarter or third of them being American players.
In America, 99.9 percent of NFL players are American-born. That's why the NHL is huge in Canada, it's where most of the superstars come out of, plus it features seven Canadian teams.
When it's mainly players from your country, it makes a big difference in terms of fan interest.
14 Alma Matters
Some NFL fans love to cheer for their favorite NFL players, based on where they played College.
For example, maybe a lot of people in Auburn don't care particularly about the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, but who from Auburn won't cheer for Cam Newton? And who from Tennessee will root against Peyton Manning?
The Super Bowl becomes more significant to some fans when it's their favorite college players involved.
Up until the Great Expansion of the late 1960s, the NHL only had so many interested fans in the U.S. In fact, hockey wasn't all that big in the country until the past 10 or so years, with many teams struggling to fill up their arenas.
As for the Super Bowl, it's always been the most iconic trophy to win in American sports. No matter who's playing, fans are tuning in, all over the country. In fact, nine out of the 10 most watched programs ever in American television history have been Super Bowl games.
12 All American Teams
The NHL has seven Canadian teams, which basically takes away several strong markets in the U.S. from having teams.
But all 32 NFL teams are from the United States, meaning it maximizes the audiences across the country. With all of the major markets in USA owning a team, it maintains the interest and viewership.
And it has become painfully obvious that the NFL will not expand into Canada.
11 Markets Matter
Sorry, but Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and Carolina didn't have their cities go crazy when they won their Stanley Cup titles. And last time I checked, Arizona and Florida aren't exactly keen hockey markets either.
It's different in the NFL. Jacksonville Jaguars aside, virtually all 31 NFL teams have an incredibly strong and loyal fanbase. NFL ticket prices are the most, and attendance is almost always extremely high for all teams.
When every NFL team has fans that care, it helps. But half of the U.S. teams have had bad cases of poor attendance and little viewerships.
10 Super Bowl Sounds More Attractive
By this, I mean that the Super Bowl just happens to be more marketable and enticing to the ears of Americans.
Like I said, many American cities that have won the Stanley Cup didn't care all that much, but winning the Super Bowl in the United States takes every city to new heights; that's the nature of the business.
Considering the Super Bowl is ONE game, as opposed to a four-to-seven game series, it's more elusive to win that one game.
Many people watch the Super Bowl because of how excellence and humorous their commercials are.
For NFL fans, it's always a bonus. Considering it takes millions of dollars to air commercials, companies always ensure that they're putting on things that fans won't miss in favor of a restroom break.
During the Stanley Cup Final, it's always the same boring commercials we've seen all year. Hard to blame anyone for watching the Super Bowl strictly for its commercials.
8 Half-Time Shows
Ask any fan at an NHL game, and they'll tell you how boring the 18-minute intermissions are.
At least for the Super Bowl, it draws MUCH more interest worldwide with their awesome half-time shows. Katy Perry, Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake, Michael and Janet Jackson, and Madonna are just a few of the ridiculously big-named performers who have entertained fans during half-time.
As for the Stanley Cup? Analysts and player interviews who tend to use the same hockey cliches: More pucks on goal, 110 percent effort, better powerplay.
7 Epic Moments
In the Stanley Cup Final, the only moments we consider epic are the series-winning goals, usually if they're in overtime.
Since 2000, we can only consider a few NHL moments "epic." Jason Arnott, Patrick Kane, and Drew Doughty scoring overtime goals to clinch the Cup, and Ray Bourque going out on top.
In the NFL, there are always one or two iconic plays: Mike Jones' saving tackle, Adam Vinatieri's two Super Bowl game-winning field goals, the David Tyree and Mario Manningham catches, the Malcolm Butler interception, James Harrison pick-six, Santonio Holmes touchdown, the Percy Harvin and Jacoby Jones kickoff return touchdowns to start the second halves.
The Super Bowl is just a more entertaining brand. Period.
6 Fan Loyalty
As we touched base on earlier, NHL teams in the U.S. can often struggle to fill up their arenas, especially if they're not winning.
The NFL always has high attendance in their stadiums. The fanbases are among the most loyal in sports. You always see teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Dallas travelling to road games all over.
It just goes to show how much more NFL fans are passionate about than the NHL.
5 Player Love
In the NHL, once you retire, your fans forget about you quite easily, and all you did for the franchise is over.
In the NFL, your name always remains iconic. No one will be like Joe Montana in San Francisco, Tom Brady in New England, Joe Namath in New York, Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, or Drew Brees in New Orleans.
NFL players set legacies that are harder to forget than NHL players. What does it show? The fans in the NFL love their players more than they do in the NHL.
4 Goosebumps-Filled Moments
Similar to the epic plays slide, the Super Bowl just provided more theatre than the Stanley Cup. Who can forget John Elway finally winning his first Super Bowl, or Ray Lewis going out on top?
The greatest moments in North American sports often come from the Super Bowl. Whatever the reason is, they're just more memorable and epic.
Plus, we've seen Plaxico Burress, Lewis, and others cry happily when they win the Super Bowl. In the NHL? Not so much.
3 Hockey is Canada's Game
Though the U.S. has hundreds of millions more in population than Canada, hockey as remained Canada's game for over a century.
That means Americans won't follow it as much as Canadians It's like a secondary sport in popularity that they turn to. But hockey is life for millions of Canadians, just like the way football is to Americans.
This makes it easier to understand how the Stanley Cup can mean less to many/most American fans.
As we've outlined multiple times: The history and tradition of American Football and the Super Bowl make it the most beloved event in the United States.
For decades, the Stanley Cup featured Canadian dynasties: Toronto in the '50s, Montreal in the '60s and '70s, and the Edmonton Oilers in the '80s.
But because it's always been in America, the Super Bowl has put itself way above the Stanley Cup and that will probably never change.
1 Football is America's Sport
Like I said: Football is the main sport in America. It's been one of the top sports for over 100 years. Hockey really hasn't held a significant history in the U.S. the way football has.
Most NHL pioneers, superstars, coaches, and Hall of Famers are North of the border, while every iconic name in American Football lore is based in the United States. That plays a big role in it.
Given how the Super Bowl is awarded to the champion of America's Game, there's no way of debating how much bigger it is than the Stanley Cup.
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