I love football. But let’s be honest…it probably won’t be around for much longer.
Between CTE, poor leadership in the professional league, a questionable college playoff system, and colleges valuing athletics more than academics…football is in its supernova phase. Sure, it’s star is brighter than it’s ever been, but that’ll quickly fade.
Truthfully, I’m far more of a NFL fan than college. People like me are increasingly harder to find. I never understood the animosity that college fans had towards the NFL. Well…okay, I do understand it…but it doesn’t make any sense. Because NFL players get paid millions of dollars?
First off, it’s not your money. Secondly, there are second-rate players in the MLB that are getting paid WAY more than the best players in the NFL. Thirdly, between having a 100% chance of injury and literally being the best athletes in the world, don’t you think that deserves a hefty compensation? I mean, with all the revenue that’s generated from these guys in both NCAA and NFL, they can’t continue doing this shit for free. Fourthly, although I am a diehard fan of a specific NCAA school, professional sports are a better product than their collegiate counterparts. Top to bottom better players and coaches. There’s a reason why Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and Chip Kelly had massive amounts of success in college but couldn’t hack it in the pros. And fifthly, as my favorite NFL writer Chris Wesseling pointed out when explaining his disinterest in college sports…NCAA players are kids! Yes, I’m a fan of a specific NCAA school, but I’m essentially rooting for a bunch of college kids that are only getting compensated through free college tuition while the school makes millions of dollars off of them. Plus, like many other college sports fans, I didn’t go to that school! I don’t know, it always seemed weird to me cheering and getting pissed off at kids just trying to pay their way through a school that I didn’t attend.
But what confuses me most about college purists is their belief that they’re taking the moral high road by not supporting a group of self-centered millionaires while completely ignoring all the NCAA violations and questionable conduct that their school commits in placing their athletic programs above the integrity of their academics. Yeah, way to take the moral high ground.
Yet, I find myself enjoying NCAA football far more than the pros this year. Well, really I only enjoy watching the Big 12 because that entire conference strangely lacks defense. It’s not because I oppose the players kneeling. I’ve called out the protest for being more about Trump’s stupidity than about police brutality, but whatever. People shouldn’t get their panties in a wad for a simple expression of speech. But no matter where you fall on the protest, it’s evident that the NFL has problems.
Many have called out the lack of “good games”. Which is bullshit. There are terrible games at every level of the game…High school, college, NFL, CFL, etc. But the NFL has been lagging behind in one key aspect…production value. The truth is that somehow the NCAA puts on better show despite a lesser product on the field. The excitement in the audience and the geography of the stadium is better felt during college games than the pros. This gives the illusion of a far more exciting product. Meanwhile, many NFL games have the production value of a high school game. And I’m not the only one to make that complaint. But perhaps the most damning criticism of the league is that the attention has been on everything but the game.
This was a problem long before the protest. Inappropriate or inconsistent punishments for player misconduct, terrible officiating, and most importantly DEFLATEGATE has tarnished the league. The commissioner Roger Goodell’s philosophy has supposedly been to “protect the shield” by producing the best product on the field. Under his leadership, viewership has increased (at the cost of saturating the market and causing viewer fatigue) but it’s also under his watch the NFL has been more about crap off the field than on it. I don’t know if that’s entirely Goodell’s fault. This might just be the result of how social media has effected everyday life. But other professional leagues seemingly lack these sorts of distractions and when they occur they don’t appear to dominate the entire discussion of the game. Add this to the fact that players and owners are growing distrustful of each other and what we find is weak leadership from the top.
You may hate the Papa John’s guy, but he’s correct in his assessment of Goodell’s lack of leadership. It’s obvious that the NFL needs a shakeup, and it should start by removing the most hated guy in sports…Roger Goodell. I don’t know enough about the decline in ratings, but people seemingly hate the NFL more than ever. If Goodell is truly concerned with “protecting the shield”, then he should step down (or be fired) as commissioner….this should have been done long ago.