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The Virtual Return of Football

Throughout the past few months, there has been a pause on live sports. Sports-based social pages have been posting a variety of content, from highlight videos to pending rumors and everything in between. Now, over the course of the past few weeks, sports have slowly resumed, and this past weekend - football. Content on the varying social media platforms has grown to become interesting and new again, as more and more games continue to be played.

An aspect of the football season many fans are really missing our pregame tailgates. Penn State was one of the most well-known leaders in starting virtual tailgates in April 2020. They had sponsored interactive events on their “Virtual Lot” like a trivia contest and a radio show, all within a very well-constructed schedule. Each of these special events was also sponsored by different companies, like Utz and AT&T. While Penn State was a driving force in making sure fans still enjoy all the traditions that come with football, it is expected that this season teams will be partnering up with a plethora of companies and celebrities/influencers to ensure their loyal fans have the best virtual experience possible. Due to this shift in how tailgates will be held, it is also expected that there will be a greater push to social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook for individuals to share their new “Game Day” experiences. Since social media has become a key component in making people feel connected in this time of isolation, people are now more than ever creating fan accounts to support their teams and to connect with other committed fans as well.

Compared to years past, advertising has increased during football games over the weekend, with NBC reporting that they completely sold out advertising space for Thursday night’s game between Kansas City and Houston. This increase in content is attributed to the months of lag between sports, and the United States’ most-watched sport finally coming back to screens. A popular ad from the weekend was Frito-Lay’s partnership with director Peter Berg to produce a spot dubbed “Twas the Night Before Kickoff,” which included football stars like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and narrated by Marshawn Lynch. Combining America’s love for the holiday season with their love for football, this commercial is a beautiful combination of heartwarming and tradition. It gives its audience permission to have child-like glee about the return of football, and also an excitement that this may be the only sport this year not operating on a different schedule than normal. The spot allows the viewers to feel excited, motivated, and ready for game day festivities.

While the feeling of a community of fans cheering on teams in a stadium will look different, devotees will be able to connect with more like-minded people than ever before this season. From social media groups to child-like joy over the Fritos-Lay commercial, organizations are gearing up to make sure this season is one to remember. While our world is changing every day, at least the teams and various football-centric companies are ensuring community safety, while also doing all they can to make sure people are still enthusiastic about this football season.


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