The No Fun League is plotting its own demise

The NFL's television ratings are down, and they have no one to blame but themselves.

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The acronym of NFL is supposed to stand for “National Football League”, but over the last few years, it has taken on a new name used by fans and players alike; the “No Fun League”.  And it’s not hard to see why; the boring night games, the tedious referee officiating, and the league’s apparent disdain of the touchdown celebration are a few of many reasons why football has taken a steady decline in home viewers this year, especially compared to the previous season.

The NFL, and most professional team sports associations, have for years now been accused of having faulty officiating. But this year the evidence has been all too evident, and maybe the most evident came in a recent Lions-Giants game.

As you can clearly see in the picture below, star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (#13) goes to catch a pass and it clearly drops to the ground before he grabs the ball with his legs, which the red circle painstakingly highlights.

However, the referees ended up ruling this a catch instead of an incomplete pass, much to the disgust of countless Lions fans. The referee problem is a concerning one, but may not be the only reason the league’s viewing attendance is starting to fall off.

Some of the biggest names in the NFL have openly criticized the league and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, which is not a good look by any means. For example, star cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks recently called out the league publicly and its commissioner in an October column with The Player’s Tribune.

Picture of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (#25). Source: http://www.

“I think if the NFL had its way, we’d all be robots,” says Sherman, underlining the NFL’s disinterest in the individuality expressed by touchdown celebrations. “We would all be perfect human beings off the field so that the league would never have to deal with another [public relations] nightmare and everybody would smile and nod and hand the ball over to the official after a touchdown or a big play,” he explains.

This is a problem that has been plaguing the league for years. People watched the NFL 20 years ago because of players like “Prime-Time” Deion Sanders, players who were arrogant, gifted, and were not afraid to showboat. Now, you can’t even dance “provocatively” in the end zone after a touchdown (I see you, Antonio Brown) without getting a hefty fine.

But it’s not just the lack of celebration that’s hurting the NFL. It’s also the bad game scheduling, specifically this year and especially during Thursday-night football games. To put it bluntly, a casual audience is not interested in seeing the Tennessee Titans blow out the Jacksonville Jaguars on a Thursday night.

A good question to ask is: why schedule these games on commissioner nights? An even better question: why bother with Thursday Night Football in the first place? The concept was introduced a decade ago, and the experiment has seemed to go on longer than necessary.

Picture of John Madden, Hall Of Fame coach for the Oakland Raiders from 1969-1978. Source: http://www.

Even John Madden, legendary Raiders head coach and the namesake for the annual “Madden” video game series, is critical of these football games.

“We’re spreading it out more and more with fewer good teams, which makes it doggone impossible to have good games…something has to be done about Thursday Night Football,” says Madden. “It’s not only a fan thing, it’s a team thing.”

What Madden hints at rings true. The fact of the matter is, a football team is not going to be at its best playing 2 games in 5 days. Not only is player fatigue bound to lead to some unmemorable games, it also puts key players at risk, which can have an effect on not only the outcomes of games and the playoffs, but the health of these players.

In conclusion, the NFL’s major flaws are all, at the very least in part, due to their own meddling. Maybe if more players were able to dance freely in the end zone after a long touchdown catch, then more people would want to watch. It is just a game, right?

The future does look bright for the NFL’s ratings, though. After the presidential election, the television ratings have steadily increased over the past 6 weeks. Perhaps the election campaign may have been the cause for the decline. Perhaps not.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
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