Sports Bar Owners: What’s the Best Sport in the World?
published onJanuary 29, 2014

How often do parents walk into a room to find their children bickering? Okay, let’s not sugar coat it, they are fighting, over something silly.

If you say never, either you are lying or you don’t have children. Today I broke up an all-out battle between my 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. After settling the riot, I asked what the problem was. No sooner did I get the words out of my mouth then they revealed the cause of their argument: “What is the best sport in the world?”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. One thing I can say for sure: I was stumped. How do I answer that?

As an athlete and a dad, a number of thoughts raced through my mind as I formulated an honest answer to their question. First, I thought was how great it is to have children who actually like sports. Then I thought, “If they are this competitive in an argument, I have a long road ahead of me.”

Finally, I reached the inevitable conclusion: I have no idea how to answer this one. Sure, sports fans all have their own answer, and everyone will think they are right, but is there actually a correct answer?

Of course, my three-time champion competitive dancer said, “Dad, dancing is the best sport!”

She barely got the words out when the response came from my U8 New Jersey travel soccer champion: “No! Dancing isn’t even a sport; soccer is the most popular in the world!”

“Soccer is a girls sport!” My quick-witted daughter fired back.

I admit, I was a proud dad as I stood there smirking at the conversation. Of course, I’m filled with gratitude to have two, healthy little athletes. And their passion is inspiring.

I let them continue the argument, which had, at least simmered down to a debate by this time. Meanwhile, I continued thinking: What’s the real answer? What is the “best” sport?

Football, basketball, and baseball all consistently fill the main screens in every sports bar. They are all headliners on ESPN. The decline of boxing has given rise to UFC. However, one single sport can’t be narrowed down to “the best.”

I mean, first you’d have to define “the best.” Is it the most challenging for the athletes? The most exciting for spectators? The one that brings in the most money? The one that’s the most popular across demographics?

For sports bar owners, the answer to that part is easy: It’s the one that gets people gathered around the biggest screen in your venue, buying beer, eating wings, and cheering every second of the match.

Now, what if I told you there’s a sleeper sport that’s the “best” based on that definition? I don’t have any statistics to back up my theory – only circumstantial evidence. But what if I told you professional wrestling is the best?

Personally, I hate wrestling, but I am drawing this conclusion based on an experience I had right here on Staten Island.

It was Game 5 of the NBA 2013 finals. The Heat and Spurs were in a dog fight. My brother called me up to go check out the New Buffalo Wild Wings in our neighborhood. So, I figured we could watch the game there.
Turns out that was a bad decision.

The place was overrun with WWE fans for a pay-per-view event. Not only could we not get a seat but only six or seven of the 50 or so TVs were playing the NBA finals game. The rest, including the main screen, were tuned to the wrestling match.

I was pissed. I feel about WWE the way my son does about dancing. It’s not even a real sport! Who really watches wrestling anyway?

Apparently, these people do. And the BWW owners were smart enough to realize that.

I was mad, but had no one to blame but myself. We chose the wrong place to go. I should have stayed home and watched the NBA Finals on my 65-inch Samsung plasma.

This got me thinking. Are some bar owners missing out on a hidden opportunity? Are there really that many people who would come out to watch professional wrestling? At least in this instance, the answer is yes.

It may have something to do with the philosophy of giving your customers something they can’t get at home. Sure, they can order pay-per-view and have the cost added to their bill. But if they’re spending money anyway, they might as well watch their favorite sport on an 80- or 90-inch screen, surrounded by other crazy fans. That’s an experience most people can’t get at home.

Me? I was just interested in the NBA game and hanging out with my brother. We could have done that on a nice-sized, high def screen in my own living room.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t play basketball finals in your sports bar. (Please, do, so that I’ll have someplace to go!) But, in doing the research, and depending on your geographic region, pay-per-view may well be worth the cost of the event. It is with this story, that I may get you, our readers, to answer my kids’ argument: What is the most popular sport? Or let’s look at it this way, instead: What is the most popular sport for your bar?

Do you know the answer to that one? As a successful sports bar owner, you should. Your livelihood may depend on it.

Once you’ve got that one down, there’s one more question you should consider: Is there another sport you can add to your viewing repertoire to reach an even larger demographic of customers?