Before 1980, the NFL draft was telegraphed and /or sent by Pony Express. Since the day that then NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle authorized cameras into the picture, the focus has changed. It's now the reality TV equivalent of what tops the Neilsen ratings, and gets bigger every year.
Can't miss Family Guy? Yeah, me neither, but last year's draft garnered a 7.3 share versus this week's Peter-messes-up episode by twice the margin.
A reality song show aficionado that craves American Idol or The Voice? Doubled.
Dancing with the Stars or even probably a Soprano's rerun? Fuggedaboutit, not even close, bud. The draft rules above all.
But what's the intrinsic value that holds the viewer's attention more than Mel Kiper's hairspray?
It's the closeness fans feel with a team and their perceived ability to make them get better with players they think will help them succeed. It's the "no -you- picked- Ryan Leaf" argument. It's 'yeah"?!? Micheal Floyd was drafted instead of a lineman, kinda moment. It's you playing the general manager without the stakes of losing your job if wrong.
So, while the "made-for-TV movie" has moved from a 2 day end week to a three day holiday weekend, one constant has remained:
We watch because we care. And we care a lot.