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Greed and the National Football League

January 13, 2024

I like football – American football where one team tries to squash, out-think or murder the opposing team.  Good sport.  Clean fun.  I am a fan. 

I am a fan.  Watching from the stands can be fun – if there’s plenty of fuel to keep warm (i.e., alcohol) and a reasonable weather pattern, not 20 degrees fahrenheit or a duckfest. 

In short, I like to watch football from the comfort of my recliner or the sofa, do not need a fortified beveridge, and will see more of the action on my TV screen than I would at the stadium. However, that is what frosts me. A televised pro football game – 4 quarters of 15 minutes each – now lasts from sunup to sundown to make room for the commercials.  

I taped a recent game -- the Philadelphia Eagles versus the New York Giants.  The elapsed time was more than three times the playing time. The commentary was OK but often insipid. Dead air would have been preferable.  The commercials not only interrupted the momentum of the game, they were insultingly repeated.  (What happened to those humorous ones we still remember?)  

From now on, if I can keep from knowing the score during the game or the game doesn’t directly affect the Super Bowl, I’m taping it and watching by zipping through the time-wasting ads and seeing only the game.  If my favorite commentators are covering the contest, I’ll listen in; if not, forget it.  Just think.  A pro football game from start to finish in an hour and a half.  I can spend the rest of the day counting my toothpick collection or practicing for Jeopardy!

But wait!  A new dog has entered the fray.  Games – key ones at that – are suddenly now available only via ‘streaming.’  That means I will have to pay to watch what I’ve been able to see free, or almost free because I may need cable or satellite to get the signal.  So now I get to pay to watch the game and pay to watch commercials!  No.  Not me.  I suffer enough slogging through ads and ads and “commercial announcements” and “sponsored content” without spending another dime (a lot more) to do so.  

Add insult to injury and you lose a customer.  I demand my right to not watch.

Maybe you remember “Saturday Night Fights” on television.  I didn’t watch, but thousands did and the show had a loyal following among cigar-chomping men and less tough wannabes of both sexes.  Then they decided it was “in the interest of the sport” (dangerous words) to offer the more prestigious bouts only on ‘Pay-Per-View.’  After that succeeded, fights further down the card were given the same treatment.  Guess what.  Saturday Night Fights faded from view.  Those who supported boxing and watched the bouts along with a fair helping of ads were dismayed.  They followed the fighters and watched the matches at home, in a bar and at a friend’s house.  They bought the sponsors’ products from beer to toilet paper.  Pay-per-view was not in their budgets and did not make them feel appreciated.  They bolted. 

Did you know there is another sport called "Football", what we Americans call “Soccer?”  The games run 90 minutes with a brief halftime.  No breaks for commercials.  Pauses are only for injury, penalties, and official reviews . . .