Saturday, October 29, 2016

Is the NFL in a Death Spiral and going the way of big time boxing?

NFL’s Blah Season may Foreshadow a Long Decline

 The thrill is gone from the NFL this season. Too many games -- and teams -- are boring and inconsequential. Few players stand out. Injuries determine outcomes more often than not. Games are sloppily played and marred by penalties, replays and endless commercial breaks. Add in suspensions, concussions and bad behavior on and off the field and you have a league in crisis.

 Reports of long-term brain trauma have interjected a moral component into viewing, accentuating the violence and making games hard to watch for many. Now some players feel it’s their right to use NFL games to promote racial politics. Must-see TV it isn’t.

Ratings reflect the malaise, down over 10 percent on average from last year, double that for Monday night games. Numerous causes are to blame, but the triggering event this season was the national anthem protests started by Colin Kaepernick, the $114 million quarterback who said he wouldn’t “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” The people without color he’s smearing make up about 80 percent of the NFL’s audience.

League officials and corporate media have no problem with whites being smeared, but they’re deathly afraid of offending Black Lives Matter or of appearing to side against black players. Thus, they deny the protests have had any effect. Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters last week that the “dramatic decrease” in primetime ratings is basically a mystery, though he’s sure it’s not from the protests. “We don’t think that’s a factor and neither do our network partners,” Goodell said.

Being more PC than their news brethren, sports media had no trouble manufacturing a more acceptable explanation. It’s the election, stupid. The public is simply too engrossed in the Trump-Hillary show to watch football, which makes the ratings drop basically Trump’s fault since nobody is turning off a football game to watch Hillary Clinton.
Yahoo/YouGov poll quickly put the lie to the election-not-protests meme, however. Of viewers watching less NFL this season, 40 percent blamed the anthem protests while just 17 percent said the election played a role. The poll received little attention from the media since the truth was already quarantined down the memory hole and wouldn’t matter anyway.
For me, the protests served as a catalyst to reevaluate my relationship with the NFL. When I saw Saints and Falcons players walk onto the field before a recent Monday night game, join hands and form a circle to protest whatever they thought they were protesting—and it sure wasn’t their average salary of $5 million a year -- I decided that whenever racial politics precedes a sporting event, I’m turning the channel, be it the NFL or NBA.
That’s no doubt going to limit my sports viewing. Black activism is surging, and the media are both intimidated and complicit. Everybody’s taking a knee.

The protests come as the public awakens to the unavoidable risks of repetitive brain trauma. While the anthem protests have already grown tiresome and meaningless, brain damage poses an existential threat to football that may be insurmountable.

Parents will probably be the final arbiters, Many are growing reluctant to allow their boys to play. Some propose legal limits on the age of players, which would end football as we know it. Leagues from Pop Warner through high school and college may be just a class action lawsuit or two away from pulling the plug on a sport they cannot defend in court.

Ironically, the NFL has spent millions coaxing female fans to overcome their natural reluctance to violence in sports. About a third of the NFL's audience is women, and there are signs that number already is slipping due at least in part to continual cases of player domestic abuse. Head trauma issues are likely to accelerate the exodus.

These transformations can happen quickly, as the NFL is surely aware. Losing viewers at this point may become contagious and irreversible. That’s why the anthem protests must be causing more anxiety than Goodell is letting on. The last thing you want is to give customers with pre-existing second thoughts an incentive to stop patronizing your product.

To make matters even worse, the NFL's demographics don’t look good. A largely colorless fan base is rapidly aging (a whopping 71% is over 35), and youth and Hispanics are largely indifferent to the sport. Combine that with the head trauma problem and the image of a death spiral begins to take shape, much like the one that ensnared boxing and brought it low.

Maybe this forgettable season is a turning point for the NFL— the year it all began to go south.

(I haven't watch one play this season. Or a replay. I don't know the Giants record. There are a lot of other people of no color who feel the same. You can't keep kicking us in the face and expect us to pay the bills.

The Social Justice Warriors refuse to acknowledge that they have started the death spiral. It is only going to get worse. The more criminal thugs they put on the field the more the regular people are going to leave. 

They have a very limited  time to turn it around. I don't think they even know that there is a problem.)


edutcher said...

Gate has been declining for about 5 years, so it seems reasonable viewership would follow.

Goodell may want to find an excuse, but football is the sport of the working stiff and the overpaid player who disses the country which has pampered him gets no sympathy.

Add to that the fact the number of teams should be cut in half, the regular season should end a week or so after Thanksgiving, team discipline needs to be increased (think Mr Lombardi), and Goodell should be replaced by Mike Ditka, and you have some of the real reasons the game has gone downhill.

chickelit said...

Someone needs to make football great again.

chickelit said...

After Hillary is installed, all the mandatory Lena Dunham viewing is going to get old fast.

chickelit said...

"Installed" is a funny verb in the context of Hillary if you imagine her to be a nag.

chickelit said...

Also, Augean Stables gets a chuckle. Equine amity.

chickelit said...

I made a rock skip five times across Troop's comments!

Leland said...

For me, the protests served as a catalyst to reevaluate my relationship with the NFL.

That's it, right there. For me, and I'm sure most people. All the other things, replays, what used to be called good tackling now called dangerous football, various injuries that even ruin fantasy football, and pregame analysis that lasts longer than the games; all those things were wearing thin. But what else to do on a Sunday? Well not much when the alternative is TV, but the alternative has never been just TV. So now we have a reason to reconsider our lives, and its not just because of Hillary and Trump. It is a bit more because of the media covering football, which last year asked us to reconsider our lives, and this year gave us this catalyst.

Good bye NFL. NBA won't even be missed.