Profit Over People: The Culture of Not Caring in the NFL
It takes a real man to say that he cares. The environment of violence on television is overwhelming but we often fail to see how it has seeped into our new favorite pastime—football.
On the surface, everyone knows that football is a physically-demanding sport. It has a nature of organized violence that we love to be a part of at any level, from Pop Warner to the National Football League. We love the game not necessarily because of the violence, but because of what sparks the violence—the nonstop action.
In most football games, one breakaway run or one interception can change the dynamics of the game. Whether it is Chris Johnson sprinting down the hash marks to reach pay-dirt or if it is Nnamdi Asomugha achieving a “pick-six,” highlight reels in the mainstream media show great plays like these all the time, but what they do not show is the extreme effects that these great plays have on players “not in the picture.”
Blindside blows and hits that may not be flagged but produce the “wow” or “ooh and aah” factors.
Punishment on the body from getting slammed to the turf.
Many things occur from all angles of the football field that negatively impact the willing participants of the game. On the same token, these players get paid a lot of money to volunteer for this savageness. People like you and I pay a lot to watch these events, not just in terms of money, but in terms of time as well.
So why is it that the NFL wants to decrease the preseason from four to two games while stretching the regular season from 16 to 18 games?
Do they want to do it for the fans? Do they want to do it for the players and owners? Do they want to do it for the media? All of the above are not necessarily correct since the bottom line is profit. The NFL is a business.
First and foremost, they do not really care about the fans.
If the NFL did care about the fans, it would not cost an average family of four nearly $600 dollars to watch the Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions. In this “Great Recession,” fans continue to pump money into the NFL but the NFL is not giving back to the fans. Prices on tickets continue to rise (although some owners, like Ralph Wilson in Buffalo, has capped ticket prices in an act of genuineness).
The NFL does not care about its players either. Many players have come out to speak against the expansion of the regular season schedule due to the harm it will put on the bodies of the players. St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has been a staunch opponent of this plan. Am I going crazy, or do people actually care about more than profit?
Well, some people do. Look at the veterans of the NFL who have lacked adequate means to health care after putting their lives on the line in order to establish a multi-billion dollar industry.
The NFL cares about its owners, though. After all, commissioner Roger Goodell has supported the notion to prevent the NFL Players’ Union from seeking the permission for the NFL owners to open up their books in order to get a clear picture of how much money is being made.
Any decent person would agree that in negotiating a contract bargaining agreement, the NFL owners should open up their books to the public. If they are in such dire straits, the NFLPA should know, the public should know too, since we are voluntarily investing our time and money into this business. Instead, Goodell and the owners continue to thwart any attempt at opening up the books.
Does the NFL care about the media? Of course they do, since the NFL has investment partners with the same people that sit on the boards at the various media conglomerates. Audience-specific targets from advertisers campaign us all season long in order to get us to buy their products, from trucks to Wrangler jeans. I get tired of it but I put up with it too. Why? Because I enjoy watching the game of football on Sundays.
One thing that I do not like is the watered-down version of football that would come with an extended regular season schedule. Two more games dramatically increases the odds of a player getting injured. These odds are increased when one considers fatigue, stress, normal wear and tear, and the brute force of the game.
The latest injury to Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil reminded me that I do not want to see more players get hurt due to an extended regular season.
Injuries are a part of the game, but I do not want to see a Curtis Painter-led Colts entering the playoffs because added wear and tear broke Peyton Manning down and caused an injury.
This makes the product being put on the field much worse, but the NFL doesn’t care because we will still watch and spend money.
There is a concussion crisis going on in the NFL right now, but they do not care. On the surface, they act like they care since they forced ESPN to remove its “Jacked Up” session, but let me remind you, it is the NFL that licensed the intensely violent NFL Blitz video game series. One can go online and buy various editions of the biggest hits in NFL history, which has been put together and placed on a DVD, licensed by the NFL.
As fans, it is our fault, too. We let the NFL get away with not caring. Imagine if everyone would boycott just one Detroit Lions game. The resulting impact of such a demonstration would force the NFL to do something about how they handle business. It would also force the Lions organization to do something as well, but on a more micro-level.
The NFL doesn’t need to add two more games to the regular season slate. I don’t mind if they subtract two games from the preseason, but if they do that, they should extend the dates for training camp, not add two more games. Players do not need two more games in order to injure themselves. As we can see with Dumervil, it takes just one bad play in training camp to do that.
Instead of placing profit over people, change your business model in order to withstand the tumultuous times this country is going through. Years of prosperity and a rising salary cap should have led to greater excess in monetary funds for the NFL, but instead, wasteful spending has led to an issue of whether or not they can sustain the league with a salary cap. How much sense does that make?
Instead of investing millions of dollars into the NFL Network, which is losing money every year, how about invest that money into a system of relief in order to get people into the seats in Detroit, Jacksonville, San Francisco, and Buffalo?
I am not calling for a boycott of the NFL, as I will be ready to watch the Bengals and Cowboys duke it out this Sunday. What I am calling for is for the fans to stop supporting this plan to add two extra games to the schedule. This will only water down the game.
The NFL does not care about you because you are a consumer. Consumers are expendable.
Be careful what you wish for.
This article originally appeared at In The Beginning, ThereWasFootball.com
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