They’ve convinced you to go to an NFL game (or at least they’re trying to) but you’re a little unsure whether or not you would enjoy it. Maybe this would be your first NFL game and so you aren’t completely sure what to expect. Are NFL games fun to go to?
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Yes, NFL games are fun to go to. Professional football is a fast-paced game with enthusiastic fan bases that make home stadiums loud and energetic. Seeing games live in person can be much more intense than watching on television, and it’s an opportunity to see superstars up close and personal. The speed of the game is much more evident live.
That said, like anything in life, just because some people enjoy it does not mean everyone will. In this article we will discuss both the good and the bad of attending an NFL game, including tips for attending your first NFL game.
If this will be your first NFL game, you will need to make sure you are adhering to the NFL’s bag policy (only certain specific types of bags are allowed through security). Here is an example of an NFL-approved bag available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon). Later in the article we will discuss what to bring to your first NFL game.
Are NFL Games Fun?
NFL games are very popular among sports fans. There’s pre-game tailgating with friends, the in-stadium atmosphere during the game, and the thrill of playing of playing a small role in your team’s success.
But with the good, also comes some bad, like crowd sizes, weather, and total cost. In the sections below let’s discuss thoroughly what you can expect at your first NFL game. Also, at the bottom I have a list of things you will need to bring to your first NFL game.
Experiencing an NFL Game Atmosphere
When you go to an NFL game, the first thing you will notice is the size of the crowds. Most NFL stadiums hold at least 60,000 fans and some even hold over 100,000 fans.
When you get that amount of people together rooting for the same team, the noise can be indescribable. When the home team makes a big play, the crowd noise can really get your adrenaline pumping. This isn’t something that you can experience watching the game in the comfort of your home. Going to a big time sporting event, such as an NFL game, is one of the few events where you can experience something like this.
There is also a camaraderie among fans. Sports have the unique ability to bring all sorts of people together, and the NFL is probably the best example of this.
When you are at an NFL game, you will meet a lot of people sitting around you. It can be really enjoyable getting to know someone new and rooting for the same team with a complete stranger. I have known many people who have made friends by getting to know those people who sit around them at an NFL game.
Another part of the atmosphere of an NFL game is the sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. Being part of the crowd whose noise level causes an opposing team to commit a false start penalty or forces the opposing quarterback to have to call a timeout can be an extremely rewarding experience and makes you feel like part of the game.
You leave the game knowing that in some small way you have impacted the outcome and helped your team win. The only way you can experience that is being at the game. Banging the remote off the TV screen just doesn’t do the trick.
Seeing and Meeting NFL Players
One of the great things about being a sports fan is getting to know and root for individual players. Seeing these players in person can take that fandom to the next level (especially for kids).
It is one thing to see the players on TV, but seeing them live in person can almost feel surreal, and can give you a better appreciation for how fast and big these players really are.
On top of that, sometimes you even get to meet the players before and after the games. Getting to meet or being able to have your child meet their sports heroes can be an unforgettable experience.
Players often times will also hand out souvenirs like wrist bands or even footballs after the games. These mementos can turn into important keepsakes for kids and even adults. If you show up before the game, you will likely be able to get some players’ autographs.
NFL In-Stadium Entertainment
Home teams do many things throughout the game to get the crowd involved and pumped up. It is their job to keep the crowd engaged and rooting on the home team. One of the ways they do this is by showing a pre-game highlight video of the team’s biggest plays.
These videos are accompanied by music and/or the audio calls from the play-by-play announcers. These videos can be very exciting and really get the crowd energized and ready to be as loud as possible.
In-stadium video crews try to keep the crowd engaged throughout the game and to keep them entertained. One of the ways they do this is by playing upbeat music or very popular music during timeouts or commercial breaks.
Music is a great way to get the crowd to sit up and pay attention and get excited for the rest of the game. Another thing they do is play specific music or beats that spur on crowd chants during important times of the game. An example of this is getting the crowd to chant “DE-FENSE” on third downs or big spots in games.
Teams will also play fun games or skits on the video-board to entertain the crowd during timeouts throughout the game. Some of these skits can include things like kiss cam or dance cam, or might highlight fans in funny costumes etc. This type of video-board entertainment helps keep fans engaged during breaks in action, and adds to the overall experience of attending an NFL game live in person.
Many fans choose to wear team apparel or even dress up into characters that are in some way team-focused or unique. This can add to the entertainment value of being at a game.
Watching an NFL Game Live
As mentioned, seeing the game live gives you a new appreciation for just how big and fast these players are. We are used to seeing how fast the players are relative to each other, but you don’t really appreciate the level at which they play at until you see them live.
On TV, the game looks almost easy at times. When you see the game live you realize just how unique these athletes are and how extreme their abilities are in comparison to average adults.
When you are at the game, you can watch any part of the game you want rather than just the view that the TV crew is giving you. If you like watching how the defense moves after the snap of the ball or how the receivers run their routes, then going to the game is going to be your best option.
TV isn’t going to show you those angles because they keep the camera on where the football is at all times. Also, maybe you want to watch how the coaches talk to the players on the sidelines or any other part of what goes on outside of the field – these are all options that you don’t get on TV. So while you may get some unique views from TV cameras, there are a lot of things they simply don’t have the bandwidth or time to show you.
Some fans only go to the game to tailgate. They simply go to the game to tailgate and enjoy all the festivities that come with it. There are many fans that will be there every Sunday but never go into the stadium.
Even if you aren’t hosting a tailgate party yourself, getting to attend one with friends really makes the gameday experience feel like more than just a sporting event. This is one of the main things that helps NFL games appeal to more than just die-hard sports fans. Even those who don’t live and die with the ups and downs of an NFL team can enjoy the social side of attending an NFL game, like hanging out with friends at a pre-game tailgate party in the parking lot.
Tailgating can be fun for many reasons, but let’s first start with the food. Tailgating is a great time for fans to show off their favorite ways to grill or smoke meats and prepare their favorite side dishes. NFL tailgates are well known for preparing smoked meats like brisket and pork, and grilling traditional favorites burgers and brats. The parking lot is filled with the smell of barbecue.
Obviously, hanging out with friends and family can be fun by itself, but there are also many tailgating games that people play to add to the entertainment. It may be the time you finally get a chance to throw the ball around with your child or play a competitive gave of cornhole with your friends. There are other games you can play such as washers, ladder toss, and ring toss, or you can even set up a tailgating table to play cards. This can be a great time to unwind and forget about the world for a while and just enjoy hanging out with some friends or family.
Building Memories with Friends and Family
Not only can NFL games bring strangers together, they can be great bonding moments for families and friends as well. Sports do such a great job of bringing people together and rooting for the same thing.
When an NFL team pulls out a close game or wins by making a huge comeback it can really get the adrenaline going and be such an exciting event that you rarely get in life. When you share these moments with people you love, it can make it even better.
When people get together, they like to tell stories. One of the best stories one can tell is about the exciting NFL game they went to. They make for great social media moments and water-cooler talk.
The experience of a NFL game, especially like a playoff game, can turn into one of the greatest stories you get to tell. As outlined above, you may get to meet a player, get an autograph, have fun tailgating, and experience the adrenaline of 100,000 screaming fans. Then when your team wins in an exciting fashion in a big game, it becomes a story you can tell for years and years.
Cost of Attending NFL Game
One of the major drawbacks of going to a NFL game is how much it will cost. There are several potential costs associated with an NFL game, such as:
- Ticket Cost
- Parking Cost
- Concession Cost
- Apparel Cost
Obviously, the cost can vary dramatically. According to Value Penguin, to cover the league-wide average cost of taking a family to an NFL game, you would need to work a day and a half, based on a median income of $30 an hour (source). According to the same article, the average total cost for tickets plus extras is approximately $350 (per family of 3). Of course, if you are only paying for yourself, these prices go down dramatically. Nevertheless, cost can be an issue.
The average ticket price to attend an NFL game is $93.25 (source). The cost of your ticket is impacted by what game you attend, how you purchase your ticket, and where your seats are located.
Spending almost $100 per ticket can add up fast. That is a lot of money, especially if you are planning to take several people to the game with you. Ticket prices will fluctuate depending on the opponent and magnitude of the game.
If you are wanting to go to an NFL game, I would suggest shopping around on the team website along with secondary market ticket sites. On these ticket sites you will be able to view all the tickets that are available and the differences between each game on the schedule. SeatGeek is a good place to start your ticket search.
You will also need to take into account how much it will cost to park at the game. According to Value Penguin, parking costs will range from $20 to $75 (source). This can often times be an overlooked cost, so make sure you keep parking costs in mind when you head to an NFL stadium.
Another cost at an NFL game are concessions. The game is going to last over 3 hours, which can mean making multiple stops at the concession stand necessary.
Obviously, concession prices vary depending on stadium. The NFL does restrict what you can bring in to an NFL game (you can’t bring in your own food). Here is a link to the NFL prohibited items which includes restrictions on bringing in your own beer, food and other beverages.
The food and drinks inside an NFL stadium can be quite pricey, so check out the prices ahead of time so you know how much to budget. In 2018, the average cost of an NFL stadium’s lowest-priced beer was $8.17 (source).
If you are wanting to buy a jersey or other types of apparel at the game, that will be an added cost as well. Sometimes, buying in stadium can be more expensive.
**We actually own and review NFL jerseys here at Sports Fan Focus. Sizing can be quite complicated. Visit our jersey resource page to view our in-depth articles that cover sizing, fit, and costs of jerseys and other fan apparel.
If you are planning on tailgating, this also may add additional cost depending on who is paying for the tailgate. Food, drinks, and setup costs can add up. We have a tailgating resource page that will help you with setting up your tailgate. Tailgating can be a great way of adding to your NFL experience, but it can also add to the high costs of attending an NFL game.
Weather at NFL Games
The NFL regular season takes place over 17 weeks, which means depending on what part of the season you attend a game, you can experience a lot of different weather environments. Some stadiums are located in climates where the weather doesn’t change that much throughout the year such as Los Angeles.
Also, some stadiums are enclosed and are not open-air stadiums, so the weather in the stadium is always controlled. For the outdoor stadiums in cities that have changing weather patterns, weather can affect the enjoyment you may get out of a NFL game.
During the first few weeks of the season, the temperature outside can still be very hot. Sitting out in the sun can make it feel even worse. You also stand the chance of getting sunburned as a result of a long day in the sun. So, if you go early on in the season, pay attention to the heat index, research to see if your seat will be in the shade or not, and bring sunscreen.
Late in the season, it is the exact opposite. Since the regular season goes until the end of December and sometimes into the first week of January, it can be quite cold and blustery when going to an outside NFL game.
Sitting in a cold seat for 3 plus hours can be brutal if you don’t plan and dress accordingly. Dealing with these extreme temperature conditions, for some, may make going to a NFL game less enjoyable.
Not only do you have to do you potentially have to deal with extreme weather temperatures, you might also have to deal with precipitation challenges at open-air stadiums. Rain can happen anytime of the year, and although we have to deal with rain in our everyday lives, it can make an NFL game seem a little less fun. Having to sit in rain can be annoying and it might mean wearing a poncho or holding an umbrella all game long.
Rain, however, can seem like a walk in the park compared to snow and sleet. The last few weeks of the regular season can bring large snow storms and sleet or freezing rain. There have been many famous snow games in NFL history.
Not only do these conditions make it somewhat unbearable to be sitting outside, but it can also make getting to the game very dangerous. So if you are planning on going to an NFL game and it is late in the regular season, check the weather forecast and be prepared for inclement weather.
Lastly, weather can have an impact on whether the game is actually played. At least when you are dealing with extreme temperature or precipitation you will still be able to see the game. When games get postponed or in the rare occasion cancelled due to weather that can really be annoying.
Usually you are able to get a refund in these circumstances, but it can make it a hassle to have to change your schedule to attend another game. Cancellations or postponements rarely happen and are usually due to natural disasters such as hurricanes or in rare occasions due to lightning.
Delays due to lightning can also make going to the game last the better part of an entire day. So, if there are thunderstorms in the forecast, just be prepared that the game may get delayed and in extreme circumstances even postponed or cancelled.
Attending First NFL Game
Attending an NFL game for the first time can be exciting, but also may make you a little unsure about what you need to know and what you need to bring. Let’s cover the basics so that you have an idea of what you need.
Tips For First NFL Game
Weather – As we discussed above, know the forecast. If you are going to a game in an indoor stadium, this is much less important. But if you are attending a game in an open-air stadium then you need to make sure you are prepared and have the proper clothing on.
Tickets – Shop around for tickets to make sure you are getting the best prices. Ticketmaster is the official ticket marketplace of the NFL (you can visit it by clicking here), but you can also visit the team website to buy tickets if there are still some available. If the game is sold out, you will need to visit a re-sale ticket site, often called “secondary ticket market”, to buy tickets. Sites like SeatGeak, Ticketmaster, StubHub, Vivid Seats (among others) are a good place to look for tickets.
Fans – Expect large and energetic crowds. This will not be a sit-in-your-seat-never-get-up environment. The is the opposite of a wine-and-cheese crowd. NFL fans are passionate and loud. Perhaps this is exactly what you are looking for.
Rules and Game Play – If you don’t understand football, then watching a short video or two about game play and rules might help improve your overall experience. Here is a good place to start if you want to learn about football.
Security – The NFL takes security very seriously. This means metal detectors, bag policies (see below), and other security measures. You may spend 10 minutes at the gate waiting to get through security. Make sure you give yourself enough time before kickoff to get through the gate and to your seat. Here is a look at NFL gate security lines:
What to Bring to an NFL Game
- Clear Bag – The NFL has a strict bag policy. No backpacks are allowed. Only small clutch bags 4.5″ x 6.5″ or smaller are allowed. Anything bigger than that MUST be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″. To make it easy for you, here is an approved bag available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon).
- Sunscreen – If you are in an open air stadium, sunscreen may be needed.
- Weather Protection – Ponchos and appropriate clothing for rain and snow may be needed.
- Camera – Small cameras are allowed if you want to take pictures. The camera bag is not allowed in. No spectator cameras with lenses more than six inches long are permitted.
- Money – This is obvious, but make sure you bring money with you if you plan to buy from the concession stands during the game.
- To view a list of prohibited items, click here.
Overall, NFL games are quite fun to attend, and are even more enjoyable if you plan accordingly and dress appropriately for the weather. Going with friends and family makes the in-game experience even better and potentially can help lower the overall cost of parking per person. To view our other football resources, click here.