Photo: The Listener’s Club
This week’s My 2 Sense blog was been written by frequent contributor to More Sports Now, Sal Marinello, President, Athletic Development Coaching.
One of the big sports stories of the year has been the poor television ratings experienced by the NFL. Every sports outlet across every medium has been offering hot takes and everything from the Presidential Election Season to the pregame protests to over saturation has been blamed.
Ultimately it’s the product on the field that matters and using quality of play as a guideline, the games this season have stunk. A nationally televised game that ends in a 6-6 overtime tie? A game hosted in England that was a snooze fest? A non-competitive Pittsburgh-New England game? A Monday night Bronco-Texans game that induced somnambulism?
Photo: The Denver Post
And this was all this past weekend.
The NFL is in trouble. The games stink. Play quality is down and the officiating, thanks to ridiculous and convoluted rules, has ruined the flow of games. What’s a catch? What’s possession? What’s a football move? George Halas is spinning in his grave, even if the Bears were not terrible.
Instant replay should be called ‘Delaying replay.’
Instant replay is choosing one form of human error over another. In its current form, instant replay has ruined football.
The NFL is a copycat league, which results in games that do not provide compelling contrasts in style of play. The league is star driven, which is okay, but the stars can’t overcome the sameness of scheme that permeates football. Especially when they get hurt so often. The nuances that football wonks can argue exist between teams are too obscure for even the most hardcore fan to care about.
The recent Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the amount of practice time coaches have with their team, and the effects of this limited practice time is obvious when you watch a game. Penalties, sloppy play, less complex playbooks.
This past Sunday the NFL started their broadcast day at 9:30 AM Eastern Standard Time and signed off around midnight. Fifteen hours. Too much of a bad thing is bad. Not to mention the Thursday and Monday night displays of mediocrity. This is what will kill the NFL.
The negative tone that dominates coverage of the NFL contributes to the league’s problems. Bad characters, selfish characters, unsportsmanlike play, injury concerns, and social protests are all issues that cast gloom over the league. I understand the position the NFL occupies in society, but why do we need a public display that the NFL cares every time a player engages in a misdeed? What other sport or field does this?
Do we really need to be told Superstar C is against domestic violence? Every time a Hedge Fund guys gets pinched for drunk driving do we get a Public Service Announcement? Financial Sector Dudes Against Drunk Driving?
We’ve been told that the NFL is making tons of money, and that somehow Roger Goodell deserves credit; this is total nonsense. A trained chimp could make money running the NFL, and would probably be better at meting our proper discipline. Josh Brown got one game, Tom Brady got four.
People hate Goodell and he casts a pall over the league that contributes to the problems. He will have to go soon.
There are other more ominous signs on the horizon for football. Youth football participation is down across the board and youth leagues all across the country are struggling to field teams. Concern over serious injuries is killing youth football.
This is not growing the brand, as over time as kids stop playing there will be less talent to rise through the ranks, less eyeballs to watch the games, less product to move to a motivated fan base.
Certainly participation won’t be as much of an issue over the years in places where football has a strong cultural foothold, but this will serve to regionalize the sport, and hurt ratings even more. Football will never become extinct, but it will no longer be a behemoth.