Sports nightmare

Bureaucracy takes toll on sports

By Mark Luedtke

I’ve long argued the NFL is in decline, but I seemed to be alone. No statistics backed me up. NFL TV ratings and revenues rose year after year, but what I observed with my own eyes was decline.

When I was young, I watched every NFL game on TV. So did everybody I knew. I watched three games on Sunday and then one more on Monday Night Football. When Thursday Night Football started, I watched that every week too. But that’s about the time football became boring. Now I only watch the Bengals as do others I know.

I blame NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell is different than his predecessor. He was never a businessman. He was never an entrepreneur. He was always a bureaucrat in the league office.

Because he was a bureaucrat instead of a businessman, he doesn’t understand the NFL owes its ridiculously high incomes to satisfying customers. Goodell assumes fans will always be there no matter what. He’s wrong.

In typical bureaucratic fashion, Goodell rules over football like Napoleon. He’s made himself the most important person in football, not the stars. He routinely attacks popular players without regard for the fans. He went on a personal vendetta against the league’s biggest star, Tom Brady, to prove to everybody he’s number one and the players don’t matter.

Since Goodell took over, the fan is the forgotten man. There’s no talk of the impact Goodell’s rule changes might have on fans. Like the tyrant he is, he strongarms them through regardless. As a result, more time is spent on replays than playing. It’s boring. Even former NFL vice-president of officiating Mike Pereira says the NFL rulebook became too big and confusing.

For years Goodell’s mismanagement seemed to have no negative consequences as ratings and revenue rose, but the rot it produced in the minds of fans has suddenly came to light thanks to the players’ national anthem protests. The decline I’ve been talking about for years is showing up in plummeting ratings. ESPN reports “Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, total viewership of games is down 7.5 percent, compared with the first six weeks of 2016 … .

“In the past week, Credit Suisse lowered its price targets on both Fox and CBS stock, citing NFL ratings declines.”

Guess how the NFL reacted to that news.

“An NFL spokesman didn’t immediately return a message from ESPN seeking comment,” ESPN continued.

It turns out the ratings and revenue growth was more about gamblers and fantasy players, not core fans. Gamblers and fantasy players don’t have to watch games to get their fix, so they’re tuning out along with core fans like me.

Goodell’s lack of entrepreneurial experience failed the league. The role of the entrepreneur in the economy is to anticipate future demand and provide goods to meet that demand. Former NFL commissioners, because they had previously been businessmen, did that and grew the business. Entrepreneurs are the architects of economic growth. Bureaucrats are obstacles to growth.

As for the anthem protests, they’re counterproductive. No matter what the protesters say they’re protesting, the fans see them as disrespecting them and their country. The protests are divisive. For once, Goodell sided with the players. As usual, he alienated more fans.

If players really want to protest police brutality, more power to them, but they shouldn’t make it about race. They should protest police brutality against everybody. Be inclusive, not divisive. And they should take a knee in front of a police station instead of disrespecting the fans who pay their salaries.

At the same time, the FBI has criminalized NCAA rules violations. USA Today reports,  “Four NCAA assistant basketball coaches were indicted in a fraud and corruption scheme  — which also included managers, financial advisers, and representatives of a major international sportswear company — by federal authorities on Tuesday.”

So now NCAA violations are criminal offenses. I didn’t know the Constitution gave the NCAA the power to write laws. I didn’t know the FBI had jurisdiction over NCAA rules. The NCAA is as corrupt as the FBI, so the two make fine bedfellows. The NCAA exists for the sole purpose of denying college athletes market-based compensation for the wealth they create for their universities. It’s unAmerican, and it should be abolished. The same for the FBI.

Political correctness has run amok in sports and sports broadcasting. ESPN’s ratings are in the tank too. Get the politics out of sports so we can enjoy them again.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Mark Luedtke
Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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