The NFL: America's Game Or Modern Carnival

Keith BrantleyCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

First I would like to state unequivocally that, to quote an NFL promo, "I Love the Game!" I do not expect everyone to agree with me. I am asking you to share your thoughts.

There was a time when football was baseballs "little brother". Over time this situation changed 180 degrees. A CBS New York Times poll in 1981 showed that 48 percent of sports fans preferred football to baseball's 31 percent.

When you add to the mix the shenanigans of the players on and off the field, it borders on ridiculous. We can go back as far as the game has been around for examples.

The game of football is a team sport. The players seem to forget this more each year. We've seen too many examples and do not need to call people out by name. There have been fur coats in court, cocaine, mistresses on team planes, no respect towards anyone or anything, drug use and sales, and even accusations of murder. 

The point I am making is that the NFL is condoning this foolishness by not coming down harder and more evenly. By omission, the league is giving approval, all the while sticking their hand out for more from the fans, host cities, and the networks.

Can we honestly say that the product on the field is better today than it was 20-to-30 years ago? You decide for yourself.

The average ticket price in 1984 was between $15 and $25 dollars. This year it is said to be $90 dollars. That's a 360 percent increase. This has changed the game atmosphere from a somewhat exuberant experience to a more subdued corporate scene.

When it costs roughly $500 dollars to bring you, your wife and two kids to the game, how many families can truly absorb the cost of one game?

My own season tickets to the Saints, I can no longer afford. Twelve years ago they cost $1,054. This year the same seats would've been $4,500. That is an almost 450 percent increase!

No matter how dark your rose colored glasses are, the product on the field today has not increased that much in 12 years or even 30 years.

There was a time when the "people" could actually see their "heroes" at the local pub, sit down and have a brew with him, talk over Sunday's game. Not any longer.

Today if you see them, they have an entourage with them and are surrounded with more people than the average city's mayor does when he's out on the town. On more than one occasion, this has caused situations to escalate when one of the "peasants" simply wanted to say hello to their hero.

There are players in all of professional sports with this displaced priority syndrome. We have all heard them say in one way or another that they can't "feed their family" on upwards of $14 million a year.

Let’s play a game for a moment. Let's you and I start a business. We will overpay everyone on the payroll from top to bottom. Let’s close the doors for business for 355 days a year.

On two of the ten days that we are open, let's advertise that we will have a substandard product for sale at the regular price. The people won't see the best we have to offer, rather a bunch of people that we know we're about to fire.

Now let's you and I go down to city hall and ask them to buy the property, and build our building for us. In the past the city would've benefited with some shops, etc. near their building; however, now we wish to put the shops, bars, etc. inside the building so that you and I can keep all of that revenue, too.

I don't think the mayor of any city would truly think it is a good deal, but then go along for the greater good, do you?

But that's exactly what NFL teams are doing, and they're laughing all the way to the bank.

When we step back and take an honest look, it seems that the league is no longer interested in dancing with the fans who brought them to the ball in the first place.

It reminds me of the guy on the carnival midway shouting “step right up, 3 for 3“. It might as well be the guy on the corner shouting “2 for 3, 4 for five, Holla at your boy!” These guys seem alright until you take a really good look. It might as well be a government agency.

What would be wrong with charging half-price for half-effort during the pre-season? The teams are "evaluating" players, not trying to win at all costs. It is sad when the league appears to be squeezing us for all they can, while not improving the product at nearly the same rate they are raising prices.

None of us have a problem paying more for a nicer house; why should we expect less of our sports dollar than we do for our housing dollar?

I love the game of football. I hope the NFL does not continue to alienate its fan's hearts the way they have shut them out of the stadium.