TV ratings are down for the NFL in 2017 and the stuffed suits at the networks are starting to fidget. Why? Let’s look from the fan’s view. Many pundits have blamed the 2016 presidential election and the head-to-head line-up of debates with prime time NFL contests as the problem. Yes, this has played a part. As a rabid NFL fan, I have skipped the last two prime time football games in favor of the debates. Viewers love a passionately contested game. Whatever contest you enjoy, you’d rather watch a close game than a blow-out. The pressure and high stakes of Hillary vs The Donald is intriguing and these debates sure beat anything the NFL has put on lately including the Giants – Packers Sunday night match-up. I am neither a fan of Clinton or Trump, but the recent bombastic town hall performance was must-see television.
Politics is only part of the problem. The league has violated the basic economic tenant of declining marginal utility (the point where the addition of one more unit devalues the entire product). There is way too much NFL on television and this is epitomized by Sunday morning London games, contests on every Thursday, and three Thanksgiving Day games. I look forward to my NFL on Sunday afternoon and have never watched one of these Jacksonville Jaguar Suck Bowl games from Wembley Stadium. I understand that the league was trying to grow it’s global presence and actually had teams with a global draw like New England and Pittsburgh playing in the early years, but the International Series has evolved into a contest of NFL teams who can’t put butts in their home stadium seats. Now Jacksonville has been contractually obligated to play one home game in London every year through 2020. Good luck – not watching.
Another problem for the league is the quality of the broadcast. It starts with this celebration crap. It’s out of hand, is a turn off, because it’s simply a way of disrespecting your opponent. For all the fans who complain about the NFL being the No Fun League, there are just as many who are disgusted by the idiotic displays of self promotion. I blame Mark Gastineau, ex-defensive lineman for the New York Jets, for starting it all back in 1983 with his sack dances. This garbage is self-policed in the NHL and major league baseball where you don’t disrespect your opponents without serious consequences. Jackie Slater of the Los Angeles Rams started a self-policing action against Gastineau in a game in 1983 which ignited a team-wide brawl. Rather than get rid of the problem, the league has tried to legislate what celebrations are legal and what are not to a point of lunacy. Now you can’t slash a throat, use a bow and arrow, but you can make a home run swing or spin the ball, but just not facing or standing over an opponent. Just ban them all like they do in college and you solve the problem.
Instant replay has broken the flow of the televised contest, doesn’t get the call right half the time, and has rendered the officials on the field impotent because they know their every decision is being watched and micro managed. How would you like to work under those conditions? Dump it.
And finally, Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests are a misguided mechanism that is angering a large segment of the loyal NFL viewing audience. Most telecasts come on air after the anthem is played, but for the big games, the notion of players disrespecting the flag on national television rubs a lot of folks raw. If the NFL is perceived as condoning this behavior, it will cost them viewers. Kaepernick would be better served using some of his millions to set up programs between police and inner city communities to help dialog and solve the complex issues. Everyone would respect him for that.
Are you watching less NFL for any other reason? Let us know!