If any of you did not know, I am a former collegiate, pro and semi-pro athlete. I played abroad in W. Africa, Europe, and South America as a futeboller, or footballer as they call it in many foreign countries, or a soccer player here. I come from athletic sports families on both sides, American sports to be precise. You might say that it is in our blood, in our American blood. I was and still am the only one in both families that ever played soccer collegiately and professionally here and abroad. Maybe your family is different over the holidays. Perhaps your family has a strong matriarch who doesn’t allow non-stop American football on TV’s during these special holiday times. I can’t say I would blame her.
These two seasons of the year—autumn and winter—along with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (at least in Texas), in my two huge parental families of south Houston (near Galveston) and various small towns outside of Austin, were typically filled with large spreads of traditional holiday foods, that took massive amounts of time, effort, joking, laughter, and crews in the kitchens. Our holidays would also include friends who were in town and not travelling. Our enormous get-togethers also included games of dominoes, or cards, kids games outside, and most definitely any important football games on all the TV’s. American football games to clarify for my international readers and followers. In Texas, as in many parts of the U.S., football games have become a long-standing, enthusiastic (male?) tradition during the holidays. I dare say it is a must with many of the men and boys, and perhaps with certain female personality-types in the families. Would my American readers agree?
Over the last 10, 15, or 20-years this American family past-time has changed. It has evolved into a very different sort of “game” now, particularly on the TV. Have you noticed how much the NFL or NCAA D1 games have changed? For that matter, have you noticed how the NBA, MLB, along with the NFL—the three major sports in the U.S.—have changed the last 2-3 decades?
Over many, many holidays I have often found myself in a discussion or debate with cousins, uncles (mostly), and a gazillion friends—American friends—as to what sport is the “best” sport, the “most popular” sport, the “most enjoyable” sport, and/or the “richest” sport in the world. Richest often seemed to be a leading criteria for “best” or “most popular.” That always puzzled me. I am sad to say to my international readers and Followers that many/most Americans, definitely with my own family members, are infatuated with the misconception, the misnomer that the American NFL, NCAA D1, basketball, and baseball are not only the best, most popular sports in the entire world, they also believe America’s three major sports (NFL, NBA, and MLB) are the richest sports leagues in the entire world… and in their vivid imaginations, for good reasons.
Depending how one analyzes these “accolades,” in some ways they are correct. But in at least two ways they are misguided. Attempting to demonstrate and explain why they are sometimes grossly astray with their American sporting fantasy can be similar to teaching a grizzly bear to stay away from the hive of honey. 🙄 (face-palm, que Winnie the Pooh’s “Oh bother!”)
Time out! Throw the red challenge-flag onto the turf! Who is right and who is wrong? Let’s examine today’s evidence.
According to Howmuch.net, who measures financial information across various economic sectors, the American NFL generated $13-billion in revenues in the 2015-2016 season. The MLB, with a more international appeal, drew $9.5-billion in the same year.
Yes, four of the top five sports are in North America, a fact American sports fans proudly boast to foreign sports fans. But is it a monetary fact to freely boast about? From the standpoint of entertainment-value is American football really worthy of endless boasting?
I am surrounded, no… I am smothered by guys (and a handful of women) who explicitly and implicitly talk, watch, cheer, cry, angrily scream, then talk twice as long post-game about their team and how American football, both collegiate and in the NFL, are the greatest games played on planet Earth. I challenge them with questions and facts about other highly popular sports around the world, but when a national past-time is so deeply and emotionally ingrained into a person’s heart and mind—exactly like religious fervor, ironically—no matter the facts and evidence, it cannot sway or change the person’s electrified conviction!
There is a big, yet not-so-blatant reason why the NFL runs away with any revenue-profit comparisons. The highly lucrative business of American football’s top spot rests on its gullible spending fan-base. Case and point:
Anyone who has ever tuned into an NFL broadcast knows that plenty of air time is spent showing players huddling, coaches yelling, and fans cheering. That’s because while the on-field action can be exciting, it’s usually short-lived. In fact, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal study of four football broadcasts, the ball was only in play for an average of 10 minutes and 43 seconds — approximately 4 seconds per play — even though an NFL telecast lasts about three hours.
— 11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018
What is it that fanatical American football supporters are ACTUALLY watching? With an excessive amount of game interruptions, from video-reviews to player injuries to intentional league stoppages for TV sponsors, there are countless game stoppages and commercials!
[Commercials] demand about an hour of airtime. Replays take about 17 minutes, footage of cheerleaders command about 3 seconds, and shots of players standing around make up an average of 67 minutes, according to WSJ. Despite this minimal action, football viewership is in the millions. According to Fortune, more than 111 million people tuned in to the 2017 Super Bowl.
— 11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018
It begs the question, is watching over an hour of corporate sales and marketing strategies, team fans acting bonkers getting in front of cameras, and players standing around with very little game-action happening, really something to boast about? Isn’t that what those corporate sponsors and the NFL want you to do for them? One way or another all they want from you is to open up your pocket-book repeatedly, directly or indirectly, every single season. It’s what makes the league and owners richer and richer while corporate businesses get in front of your face. Is it any shocking mystery why the NFL and other N. American sports leagues are so filthy rich? And what sort of return-on-investment do the fans get? Granted, there are many charities the leagues donate to and support like the “My Cause, My Cleats,” a three-week campaign. Those are outstanding causes and always needed; no argument there. But these sorts of charities are done every season by the majority of all sports leagues around the world. It’s nothing new. Consider this, from a playing-time standpoint have American football fans really analyzed how much time and energy they are spending in front of those live televised games watching very little football-action?
Here’s another highly sensitive question about “supporting” the NFL: How many times has the NFL allowed domestic abusers or civil law-breakers to continue playing in the league? Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt are only the most recent in a long, long, long list of players given “special privileges” to keep playing. Fans of American football probably do not want to hear/read all the actual statistics. Excessive money talks, excessive money is often above laws and civil human rights. Team owners and the NFL Commissioner certainly don’t want those facts overly publicized! It hurts their personal bank accounts. Yes, domestic abuse, drug abuse, etc, are not strictly a sports problem, it is a societal problem. However, sports is a huge revenue-generating part of most all civilized societies as any other business or public sector. Therefore, it should be firmly and fairly addressed ANYWHERE it rears its ugly head and correct precedents actualized.
Nonetheless, in the end I can honestly think of several, much better ways to spend my cherished holiday time with friends and family than glued to a TV-set of American
Corporate football. Amazingly though, I am in the minority. Wow, riddle me that! (scratch head)
Do you have similar experiences with your family and friends during the holiday season? Do you agree, disagree with this post? What should the holiday season be about?
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Watch Less NFL!
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