The NFL is almost monopolizing professional sports in America and I can’t figure out why. The only argument is “because football is awesome.” Admittedly, I don’t have much room to argue. But let’s take a look at some of the things that the NFL has done recently:
- The NFL has priced out its fans. Reports show that over half of the league’s teams did not raise prices going into the 2011 season. You might see this as evidence that the league is not gouging their fans. I see it as them realizing that they’ve already done irreparable damage. Browns fans are paying less for games than almost anyone in the league, but good luck getting a ticket and refreshments for less than $50 face value. That’s not cheap for a four-hour commitment. It’s especially not cheap when you consider the next point.
- The circumstances for my going to a Browns game are ever-changing (partly due to being far away from Cleveland), but I have minimal motivation to go anymore. I was offered a ticket to a game last year while I was home for a weekend and I simply said no. I didn’t want to go through the hassle, I had things to do before and after the game so it wasn’t a full-day affair, and I didn’t really have anyone to go with. So I decided to stay home, partly due to the next point.
- The NFL has to pay their bills, and their bills must be incomprehensible. How can I make such an assumption? Because the league mandates at least five commercial breaks per quarter of play. This means that in a three-hour programming set, the NFL is mandating 47 minutes of non-football, with a 12-minute halftime. I’m fine with the idea of the game running at a variable pace due to tempo, passing, weather, etc. I know that they’re trying to fit it into a certain schedule, but knowing that they’re planning for well over half an hour of time that they’ll be showing us advertisements, I get a little bored. Not to mention, at the end of each 1:45 commercial break there are almost always additional promotional considerations. It is flat-out not fun to be at an NFL game and have to sit and watch non-football-related activity for 47 minutes per game. Of course, it can be made up for if the football activity is good, which brings me to my next point.
- The NFL has changed the game drastically over the last ten years. No one knows what’s pass interference, what’s a legal hit, or what the purpose of wearing a helmet is. A league that used to pride itself on big hits, massive collisions, and punishing tackles has turned into a league that draws at least one “JUST PUT THE RED JERSEY ON HIM AND MAKE IT TWO-HAND TOUCH FOR GOD’S SAKE” at least once per game, per stadium. I’m not saying that the NFL is wrong for this; player safety is a major issue and the health of former players is something that is just hard to watch reports of. But it’s not the only problem: I genuinely do not know how it’s possible that 90% of pass interference calls are against the defense, or something like that. The rules have changed to the point that every team’s fan base will eventually see a play that makes them just shake their head and say “I know that’s getting called on us, but I just cannot figure out how that’s illegal.” It gets to the point that you wonder about whether or not the league wants these guys to even play football. Which brings me to my next point.
- The NFL essentially didn’t exist last summer, if you recall. There was a general consensus that the league wouldn’t miss games, except maybe the preseason (which served to inform the league that no, we don’t care about preseason games), but it was a matter of millionaires arguing with billionaires over money that was being ponied up by thousandaires. Every few weeks someone would publicly complain about the greed, but then it would get swept under the rug due to lack of interest or other stories. Speaking of other stories, here’s my next point.
- The league hijacked April. Making the NFL draft last three days is the greediest thing I’ve ever seen. I used to love that it was Saturday and Sunday because I could make a weekend of it with my brother and his friends or friends at another college. Now I’m confined to a phone call when the Browns are on the clock and that’s about it. In fact, this time around I accidentally scheduled a class on Thursday nights, so I’m going to miss the first night of the draft. The fact that my instinct was “damn!” makes me question my life choices. I quickly remembered that I probably wouldn’t actually watch it, but my initial reaction makes me sad to remember.
So where does that leave us? Somehow, it leaves us with the 2011 season being one of the most profitable, prolific, successful seasons in NFL history. Even if teams are having consecutive home games blacked out, the league is still making so much money that the value of the worst team in the league is twice what it was ten years ago.
But what do I know? I’m an English major. I don’t know business.
Screw it. Go Browns.