Football Blues

Now begins the long drought – from the end of the SuperBowl to the long wait for the next season to start. Usually, it’s a tough one – what do I do with my Sundays? And Monday nights? (And Sunday and Thursday nights, too).

This year is a little different. Apparently, I’m not the only NFL fan cooling on the league. I’m sure I’m not the only Washington fan cooling on my team.

Then I saw this: Some 80% of NFL fans are white, and they are 20% more likely to be Republican. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, except that America is on a path to being a majority minority nation. And polls indicate the electorate – which in this case will have to stand in for the populace – is pretty evenly divided between the two parties.

Could that over-indexing have something to do with the NFL’s slipping popularity? If millennials are the most diverse generation ever and the NFL – for whatever reason – appeals primarily to white men, then even if the NFL is capturing its same percentage of white male interest among younger men, the overall percentage would go down.

Then there’s this: maybe Trump is right. If the average NFL fans leans that right, maybe the protests this year are making a dent. I decry the politicization of the NFL, but not by the players who have legitimate grievances and are using their platforms. It’s the politicians trying to score cheap points, often at taxpayer expense, that I can’t stand.

Of course, there’s a larger problem with the NFL. It is a huge cash machine, and those involved are only concerned with preserving, or even accelerating, that income stream. I mean, the owner of my team allows his employees to sell skunked beer to the ticketholders. We are just walking ATMs to him.

And Goodell? I suppose he was in a no-win situation with the protests. He couldn’t satisfy everyone. I suppose he thought the protests would dwindle when Kaepernick didn’t sign on with another team … Then I look at all the other issues that he and the league have passed on: domestic violence among the players, CTE among retired players. I suppose a society as misogynistic as ours can overlook hitting of wives and girlfriends (just read the comments, there’s always a healthy share of “you don’t know what she said before he hit her”), but seeing your childhood idol barely able to remember his own name? Even the majority of NFL fans won’t stomach that.

Even then the league could only protect its revenue. Even now with the evidence tying CTE not to concussions, but to hits to the head (!) the league is oddly silent.

I hope they realize that by not taking action that might risk a fan backlash, they are slowly stoking one.

What does this all mean? For the NFL, we’ll see. For me, I don’t know. I’m seriously considering giving up my season tickets … but then I think, I don’t want to miss the big rivalry games or miss seeing future Hall of Famers. I can always give away tickets to the games I don’t want to go to …

In other words, just like the league: no change in the short-term, but underneath the surface, something is roiling.


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