Mr. Josh Bliss
In October 2015, NFL running back DeAngelo Williams was fined $5,787 for wearing pink in honor of his mother to support Breast Cancer. In 2016, even more ridiculous fines occurred. Antonio Brown was fined $6,000 for wearing blue cleats. Josh Norman was fined for shooting a bow and arrow after a good defensive play, despite Brandin Cooks not receiving a fine for doing the same exact thing. Even Allen Robinson was fined $9,000 for spinning a football after scoring a touchdown. It’s no question why the NFL has lost viewership over the past years. All of these rules make the games less entertaining. If the NFL wants to change the trend in declining viewership, they have to change many things.
Image Credit: Sports Illustrated
Some people associate this decline with the number of uninteresting games. This may be a factor in the decline, as eight out of the 10 playoff games before the Super Bowl were blowouts, meaning there’s no point in watching when you already know who’s going to win after the first quarter. It is also quite possible that the presidential election had something to do with the declined ratings. Ratings were down 8% this year, but studies have proven that ratings also decreased during the 2000 presidential campaign (10%) and during the 1996 presidential campaign (6%). However, even after the election occurred, the ratings were still down.
One of the main causes is because the NFL doesn’t listen to their fans. Fans want to see close, entertaining games that are reffed fairly. Only the opposite can be said for this past season, as we have seen more and more blowouts, less entertainment, and controversial refereeing. Eric Simons, author of “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans” expressed, “There’s this idea that fans will follow or that fans don’t matter. That they’lll sell out their boxes to big corporations no matter where they go.”
This assumption by the NFL just simply isn’t true. Take the new Los Angeles Rams for example. They just finished their first year playing in Los Angeles after many years of playing in St. Louis, and they were more popular in St. Louis. Despite Los Angeles having a significantly higher population than St. Louis (more than 3 million people), more people in St. Louis are watching the games than those in L.A. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Nielsen, which tracks viewership, reports that 10.6 percent of homes with a TV in St. Louis tuned in to see the Rams trudge to a 24-3 loss Thursday night to Seattle in their most recent contest. The figure in LA was 10.2 [percent]. (The game was shown on NBC and NFL Network in both markets, and the ratings cited are the combined numbers for those outlets)”. Attendance is down in L.A., and there is no sign of change in the near future. With even more teams moving to different cities such as San Diego to L.A. and Oakland to Las Vegas, it is safe to assume that these teams will lose ratings.
Image Credit: USA Today
Additionally, fans want to be entertained. The new rules preventing players from celebrating is uncalled for and doesn’t prevent anything. What is the harm in celebrating a touchdown? Fans are upset that their teams are penalized for simply celebrating a touchdown, which can affect the outcome of the game. Yes, the NFL has made momentum to changing these celebration rules amongst other rules, and a change is likely in the near future. For now though, the NFL is commonly known as the ‘No Fun League,’ and viewership will continue to decline until something is done about it.