I found this article from the Washington Post to be especially intriguing, in part because its author is echoing a sentiment I and many others I know personally have expressed time and time again. I don’t think its hyperbolic to say that NFL players are modern day gladiators. Obviously the stakes aren’t life or death, but these men week after week put their health and (especially mental) well-being on the line for fame and glory. And money. Lots and lots of money.
As I watched the tail end of the sparring match between the Cowboys and Eagles last night, the camera continuously cut to Jerry Jones and his posse, nestled comfortably in their suite. Never has the word “owner” seemed so appropriate. He literally owns these “Cowboys.” They are his product, and his business is entertainment. And of course, the ultimate goal of selling his products as entertainment is to make profits.
This latter point is one the aforementioned article hints at, but one that I don’t think receives enough attention. Why are their more penalties and instant replay reviews? The author argues that this phenomenon could be due in part to the NFL increasingly paying attention to discipline and uniformity. She then goes on to mention that she is not alone in her confusion. “The NFL ratings malaise is being puzzled over by everyone from media executives to stock analysts, who offer a variety of speculative causes.”
From my perspective, what perplexes me the most is why there is so much bewilderment to begin with. There are more penalties and instant replay reviews so that there can be more commercials. And why more commercial breaks? Well it all goes back to the purpose of the business: to make profits. More commercials = more profits. Although it will probably be beyond difficult to obtain, I’d love to see a balance sheet for the NFL for this 2016 – 2017 season once its all said and done and a champion has been crowned. Do ratings being down equate to lower profits? Tens of millions are still watching, and the commercials are bountiful. An end-of-the-season financial statement would be telling.