Everyone used to know who America's Team was.
These days, it's not as obvious.
The Dallas Cowboys will never fully lose the lofty "America's Team" nickname, but the title has certainly not been earned in recent years.
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The Cowboys might make a load of money -- the franchise is the most valuable in the world, according to Forbes -- but that's where the relevance stops. Business is only half the game, at best, and in the modern media landscape, the product on the field matters more and more every year.
Look at a franchise like the Golden State Warriors. Before Stephen Curry became the back-to-back MVP of the NBA, the Warriors were arguably the worst franchise in all of sports. The Chicago Blackhawks couldn't put 3,000 people in the United Center before 2008 -- now the Hawks are a cash cow that might as well have a national TV deal.
Relevance comes cheap these days. Staying power is hard to maintain. Amid these truths, the Cowboys are testing fate -- they're a worse-than .500 team in recent years that is cashing in on its reputation from 20 years ago.
Since 2010, the Cowboys have been 46-50, with three-straight 8-8 years from 2011 to 2014. The Cowboys haven't been to the NFC Championship Game since 1995, the season they last won the Super Bowl. The Redskins and Lions can boast longer NFC title game droughts, but that isn't saying much -- think about how many times the Bears have gone from bad to good and back in that 20-year stretch.
The Cowboys have given those under the age of 25 nothing worthwhile to remember them from, outside of three above-average regular seasons, and it shows.
The Cowboys are reportedly concerned about the team's lack of success and how the brand -- the most valuable brand in the NFL -- doesn't resonate with the new generation of fans.
They should be concerned. The Cowboys might be the most popular team in the NFL, according to the most recent numbers from Harris, but the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are the favorite teams of those under the age of 30. The Cowboys make up the big meaty middle -- they're the dominant team of those aged 30-64 -- but that group doesn't determine who is cool these days.
Ninety-four percent of respondents under the age of 30 told Public Policy Polling before the Super Bowl that the Cowboys were not "America's Team."
PPP also found that no survey takers from ages 18-29 listed the Cowboys as their favorite team, but 41 percent of those under-30s did say the Cowboys were their least favorite team.
In all, the Cowboys were the second least-liked team in the NFL, despite the fact that they haven't posed much of a threat to anyone for the last 15-or-so years.
High disapproval and an aging and diminishing support base -- it doesn't take a political scientist to figure out that if the Cowboys don't change paths soon, they're going to see a precipitous fall. (Donald Trump, who shares these polling qualities, probably thinks the Cowboys shouldn't change a thing.)
So who is America's Team these days? Well, polling shows that if you're winning, you're the favorite. How else would the Carolina Panthers be the favorite team of under-30s?
Given the flippant nature of fandom, the correct answer might be "none of the above." The social media age, the constant expansion of fantasy football, the RedZone channel, and ability to watch any game you want on any device you can imagine might make the unaffiliated the most influential NFL fans. Fans might say they like the local team, but it's not hard to imagine a scenario where they care as much about their fantasy team as what the Titans are doing.
Alas, even if they win big this year, it might be too late for the Cowboys to earn back the "America's Team" title.