“Numbers don’t lie”, this phrase applies to an almost infinite amount of situations and especially in sports. Including when talking about the popularity of the NFL. In recent years the NFL has seen a great decline in viewership and the ratings have plummeted because of it. Should it be a concern to the NFL that people are changing the channel on Sundays?
Let’s dig right into the meat and potatoes of this discussion, the NFL has steadily regressed in ratings and proving that less and less people are tuning in, and by far. 2017 has been the lowest it has been in years. According to the stats the ratings are down 9% from last year where it was already down 12% through the first 9 weeks from 2015. They’re losing millions of viewers per week. So what is the cause of this drop? Some may say the National Anthem protests played a vital part in this decrease in viewership but I beg to differ. I believe that the people who protested against the group of players that kneeled/sat for the anthem were either A. People who have already stopped watching the NFL or B. People who just needed an excuse to stop watching football. I have 3 top reasons of what’s causing people to go elsewhere on “Football Sunday”.
Reason 1 : Lack of Competition
Let’s be honest, the NFL hasn’t produced a good variety of winning teams over the course of the last 15 years. If we dig into the statistics in Super Bowl winning teams. There has only been 7 different franchises to win the Super Bowl in the last 10 years. Including just 4 different AFC Teams (New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens). So lack of competition is a believable cause for people to stop watching. No fan wants to see a re-run of the same teams doing the same thing every year, and with long term deals going to super star talent. Young teams won’t have the same opportunity for success like teams who get generational talent developed and keep them long term.
Reason 2 : Fantasy Football
I hate to say it, I love fantasy football myself, but people are becoming bigger fans of their fantasy teams than actual football teams now. It’s like people are becoming stat nerds and getting hyped up about their RB getting a TD against their favorite team than they are getting frustrated because now their favorite team is down 7. I believe that this is a issue that the NFL has been having for years although not a big one. I think it brings in fans that just want the stat crunching aspect of football, but now people aren’t watching because their favorite team is on. I think it takes fans away because the only football that matters is beating their friends in a fantasy league then the real team taking home the Super Bowl in February.
Reason 3 : Authority and Rules
Let’s be honest, there aren’t very many Rodger Goodell fans in the community of the NFL fan base. The suspensions and fines that he approves of are most of the time, ludacris and outlandish (See the Ezekiel Elliot case most recently). The discipline of the NFL has gone down the tubes. Along with this mess, there are tons of penalties in the NFL for silly things. The referees and officials are too involved in the game to where nobody knows what’s allowed anymore. Most recently with rules, a catch has been a coin toss in recent years when it comes to questionable calls. Games have been decided by just one catch and bad calls have come up too often! It’s time for the NFL to look into the rule book and find a way to make the NFL fun again.
I do have 3 possible solutions to these issues though. Some would take years to happen and alot would never be considered. Although there are possibilities as to where the NFL can go to improve these critical drops in ratings.
Solution 1 : Division Realignment
There isn’t a ton of competition among NFL Divisions anymore. A perfect example of my case is the AFC East. The New England Patriots are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL and they have been since the new millennium. They have won the AFC East with relative ease 14 of the last 17 years. I think to limit these types of situations from happening the NFL should consider a division realignment to where teams have more of an equal chance of winning than where it is at now.
Solution 2 : Editing the Rule Book
As previously stated most of us can agree the officiating out of the NFL’s referees has been less than ideal. They’ve been way too involved and the calls have been making less and less sense as the years have come by. The rule book is due for a change and going in and remodeling it could very well be a HUGE step in the right direction for the NFL. Letting the players play more and getting the referees to let more things go would be positive progress into making the NFL fun again.
Solution 3 : Regulation of Discipline
With suspensions, it seems that its almost like Rodger Goodell and company are simply spinning a wheel as to how many games a player gets suspended for a certain offense. The only offense that seems to be regulated is PED offenses. But when it comes to things like domestic violence and outside of the NFL subjects. There should be the same kind of deal with these offenses as with PEDs. Each penalty increases the more times you do it. A first time offense shouldn’t be as severe as if a player has been causing off the field issues his entire career. Other issues such as scandals and unsportsmanlike conduct should be regulated aswell. It should depend on the severity of the issue and if this is something that is likely to continue with a certain player. With a regulation of penalties the NFL may become a bit more respectable and find less off field antics being a top issue among football and it’s fans interest.
What other ideas do you have to improve the NFL? Is there any subjects I haven’t touched that you would like to be made heard? Leave your comments and thoughts below!