The spineless NFL has been party to its own demise for a while now. Professional football has been the pre-eminent sport in America for years, far outpacing the MLB, NHL and the NBA. It’s grown at such a pace as to cause many to believe it too big and certainly too popular to fail.
Well, it may be too big to fail completely, but popularity is a fickle mistress.
Viewership is down for a variety of reasons. Fans, particularly the younger set, are simply not watching traditional network TV.
“Americans under the age of 30 now watch almost 50 percent fewer hours of traditional TV than they did in 2010,” reports the Atlantic.
There is a dearth of heroes taking the field – many less stand-out superstars than in years gone by. They’ve been replaced with overcompensated mediocrity.
In years gone by, fans could name dozens of gridiron heroes in a single breath. People tuned in to watch them play, and more often than not, they didn’t disappoint. Fandom delighted in their teams’ nicknames like the Steel Curtain, No Name Defense and the Purple People Eaters.
Now who do we have? A handful of exceptional players – almost all are at least heading into the tail end of their careers, with virtually no one in the pipeline to replace them. The last great superstar rivalry was Manning vs. Brady, and that goes back more than a decade.
Meanwhile the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has consistently ratcheted up its demands of “management” with every subsequent negotiation. And with every union demand that is met, the product on the field is worse for it.
It is said, quite correctly, that practice makes perfect. The players union has negotiated limited practice time, doing away with “two-a-days,” and severely curtailing practice in full pads. By making life easier and “safer” for the overpaid prima donnas, the finished product suffers. People just don’t care as much to watch an uninspiring performance.
And then there is of course the elephant in the room – the newly discovered voice of the players – the refrain of social justice.