Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Hubris of Roger Goodall and the NFL

The Hubris of Roger Goodell and the NFL In the immortal words of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?” These are trying times for the NFL. The owners and players are rolling in dough. Almost all games are sellouts. The NFL is back in Los Angeles. NFL teams have received $3.2 billion in stadium subsidies. $7 billion annually in TV contracts with CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and DirecTV. Unlike professional baseball and hockey, they don’t have to support minor league teams; the colleges are their minor league. Even the most incompetent owners of chronically losing teams earn a large profit from the NFL. Commissioner Goodell earned $31.7 million in 2015 and $174.1 million over seven years. His motto: “What, me worry?” He’s getting a five year contract extension through 2024. What, Roger worry? What’s the buyout? The Commissioner started out in the NFL as an intern. He is the living exemplar of the Peter Principle in action. Beer and jersey sales are in the stratosphere. The Dallas Cowboys became “America’s Team.” Baseball was America’s Pastime; now it’s football. The Boys of Summer aren’t worshiped anymore. Colin Kaepenick took a knee last year and is out of the League. The NFL is taking a knee this year. The NFL now believes it is bigger than the fans. The hubris of the NFL. NASCAR understands its fan base. One owner said the crew members could stand, or take the Greyhound Bus back. The NFL's swans headquarters are at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Perhaps they should move back to Columbus or dayton. They have forgotten their fan base in what New Yorkers often derisively refer to as "Flyover Country." The NFL celebrated America’s military, but charged the Pentagon $6.1 million to do so. NFL, look to the University of Missouri. We go to the movies and watch TV, both for entertainment, and to escape from the real world and its problems. So too with athletic events! We don’t go to the movies, watch TV, or football games for politics. We can do that with CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. President Trump in a simple tweet made it about the American Flag and the National Anthem. The Flag is our symbol. Our men and women have died under, and been wounded and maimed under the Flag. They salute the Flag to honor the Flag and country. The players say it’s about oppression, inequality and the President. President Trump’s patriotic tweets trump the NFL players. They cry oppression. 25 year old pampered, self-indulgent multi-millionaires present a poor case for oppression. Many of the players decry inequality. The highly paid players are a symbol and beneficiary of inequality. High ticket prices, gouging food and beverage prices, inflated prices for merchandise made in sweatshops overseas, resulting in high salaries, that’s the NFL inequality. Give it back to your community. 25 year old basketball, football, and baseball players with histories of alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, and illegitimate children are not role models for America. Their athletic success is a role model for aspiring athletes. Leave it at that. We hardly ever hear of the lives of the scores of players who are solid citizens and loyal family men. We hear of the miscreants on and off the field. Similarly, I don’t care what Hollywood celebrities profess and proclaim, but I find their mug shots and rap sheets amusing. Freedom of speech? Not really! Freedom of speech does not legally exist in the private sector. It is a constitutional guarantee against actions of the government, but does not apply to private action. However, we respect their right to protest, by words or symbols. Actions have consequences. Just as the players can state their positions, the public has every right to respond by not buying their tickets and merchandise, attending their games, or watching their games on TV. The President has the same right to speak out as the players. President Trump has every right to use the President’s Bully Pulpit to call out the players. They’ll show President Trump. They’ll kneel, hold hands, stay inside, and stand for God Bless the Queen in England. That’ll show Trump. And the American public! Solidarity of the players. The hubris of the players and the Commissioner. Their arrogance betrays the basic maxim: “Don’t bite the hand the feeds you.” Who’s right? The NFL or President Trump? Initial fan resistance may be a trickle or a torrent. Even if a trickle, a trickle can build on a trickle and turn into a flood. These are the early keys to the answer: 1) TV Viewership, but that can be ambiguous and reflect multiple causes; 2) Game attendance; 3) DirecTV refunds for the NFL Football Sunday package; 4) Resale ticket prices on StubHub; and 5) Jersey and merchandise sales. The owners, successful entrepreneurs, understand. The NFL does not.

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