Many people have discussed recently why the NFL has lost so many viewers this year so I sat down and racked my brain to figure out why does the game seem different this season compared to recent seasons. Here are the top 5 reasons the NFL is losing it’s popularity:
1). The Officiating
More and more we are hearing about players and coaches unhappy with the officials. Well, guess what? Fans notice it, too, and it is sending them away. No one wants to think their team lost a game because of a bogus call or a non-call. Sometimes the call is so bad that it is amazing that not one official on the field notices it is wrong or will admit it is wrong. We also notice that some crews call more penalities to others. No one wants their chances to win lowered based on the official. It makes me ask the question: are the officials really that bad at their job or are they are showing favoritism towards teams? While no one wants to think the game is unfair or even possibly rigged, fans can’t help but have that doubt in the back of their mind after some games. Until the league figures out how to fix their officiating problem (like actually hiring full time officials), fans are going to continue to get more and more annoyed about how the game is officiated.
2). Player Complaints
So number one was about officiating and I get players are frustrated with this and voice their opinion on this, however, everyday it seems like somebody new is complaining about something new, whether it is the officials, the league not being fun anymore, Roger Goodell, etc. Now don’t get me wrong. The majority of players have some very valid points, but all of the negativity is making watching the NFL also not fun for the fans. Who wants to watch a game with constant complaining? Fans want to watch football to get away from their day-to-day annoyances, not add another negative thing to their lives. I am all for free speech, but when fans only hear negative things from the players, people are going to start looking for happier things to watch, such as the Cubs winning the World Series. The NFL needs to create a better forum for players to express their suggestions and grievances without them having to express it through the media all of the time.
3). Roger Goodell
Like the players, fans cannot stand him. He seems so arrogant and doesn’t appear to be a very good businessman at all. Since he became commissioner of the league, the NFL had gotten worse. There is no question about that. There is only two ways to fix this problem: completely remove him as commissioner or take away him having so much power. It is time the NFL became more of a democracy instead of basically having a dictator control the league. Maybe it is time for Peyton Manning to move on from Nationwide and Papa John’s and add commissioner to his resume. At least he seems like he would try to do what is actually good for the game and for the players and not just the NFL’s pocketbook.
4). Inconsistent Punishments
Ah, punishments. How we seem to hear about your all of the time. You are 100% necessary, but 100% unfair on how you are decided. I am not here to decide how long a player should be punished for things they do, but I am here to say we need some consistency in the punishments handed out. The NFL cannot have one person just fined and another person suspended for almost the exact same thing. They need to make clearer cut disciplines and not be so willy nilly. Sometimes it feels like punishments are basically based on the popularity of the player and what the NFL can get away with. They also need to take their time deciding punishments. While I do not agree with what Josh Brown has done in his past, the NFL gave him a one game suspension because they acted too quickly. To punish him again is a form of double jeopardy. It’s the NFL’s fault for acting so quickly. If they had taken their time, they could have received all of the facts. The NFL needs to create a new way to hand out punishments and do it quickly otherwise they are going to continue to receive more and more bad press.
5). Boring Games
And by that I mean predictable games or ‘who cares?’ games. The Patriots will probably win. The Browns will probably lose. We all know this. Fans love seeing games that may actually be close and exciting. When only two or three games sound interesting every week, there is a problem with the league. Besides Jets or Dolphins fans, no one cares about a Jets vs. Dolphins game (except maybe people want to see if Ryan Fitzpatrick will implode). Fans need to see more competition in games. It’s sad knowing midway through the season that the Browns will probably have the number one draft pick next year and that the Patriots will probably win the Super Bowl. This should not be so predicatiable with half of the games remaining. The strength of schedules are really sad. Some have ridiculously hard schedules while others can basically coast to the offseason. Whoever handles scheduling, needs to get their act together and try to put together some tougher games.
These are the top 5 reasons why I personally think the NFL is losing popularity. There are other contributing factors, but these reasons listed above are really having a huge impact on how fans view the game and will continue having an impact until changes are made.