I couldn't help but roll my eyes last night when I flipped on the TV, ready to do my best to embrace the new NFL Season. I thought I had allotted enough time to bypass any and all pre-game nonsense, only to see some chick hosting what appeared to be an NFL themed version of Total Request Live, telling people to put their hands together for The Black Eyed Peas. (Performing their hit single "Boom Boom Pow", naturally.) Really... The Black Eyed Peas?!?!? Oh yippee!!! And here I thought I just wanted to watch a football game. How silly of me! I forget that no one actually tunes in to games for actual football, we tune in to see the spectacle that an NFL game has become. It's like it isn't even a sports league anymore. It's a advertising/marketing vehicle first, a sports league second, and a whole bunch of other shit after that. Now, I know that this is true of all leagues, but the NFL seems to take it to a whole 'nother level. Would it really surprise anyone if the NFL announced tomorrow that it would be holding concerts by artists from whatever record label they had signed an agreement with, before every NFL game? It wouldn't shock me at all.
I don't know why this irks me so much. It's not like I'm a college football purist, that despises the commercialism of the pro game. That'd be D3's job. But for some reason the NFL has been irritating me more and more, every year, for about 5 years now. It seems like any chance to pack a commercial into an NFL game, they do it. Sometimes I forget what game I'm watching because there's only been an extra point and a kickoff sprinkled in between 3 commercial breaks. I don't know if I'm just getting crotchety in my old age or what, but this shit really gets to me. I think, er, I know, this resentment comes, at least partially, from the millions of people who worship at the NFL altar and loudly proclaim its greatness over any other sport.
Say what you want about Bill Simmons (and Lord knows we do), but I think he's dead nuts on this one. Is there anything that could happen in or with the NFL that would surprise anyone anymore? My personal favorite was:
Prediction VI: Blackouts of home games will become the signature media story of the 2009 season. You'll hear way too much about it. Here's my take: This isn't about the economy. It's about the fact that it's more fun to stay home and watch football than it is to sit in crappy seats to watch any team ranging from "lousy" to "mediocre." It just is. For many fan bases, here are the two choices every Sunday:
Door No. 1 (more expensive): Traffic, parking, long walk to stadium, lousy seats, lifeless state-of-the-art arena, TV timeouts, dead crowds, drunk/bitter fans, more TV timeouts, hiked-up concession prices, PDAs with jammed signals as you're searching for scores, even more TV timeouts, long walk to car, even more traffic.
Door No. 2 (less expensive): Sofa, NFL package, HD, fantasy scores online, remote control toggling, gambling, access to scores, seven straight hours of football, cell phone calls, beer and food in fridge, no traffic.
I can see going through Door No. 1 once a year just to remind yourself that going to an NFL game sucks. But eight times a year? Unless you had good seats, or unless this was your only excuse to get out of your house and get plastered, why would you? It's a blue-collar sport with white-collar ticket prices. This blackout trend would have happened whether the economy was suffering or not.
How dare he!!
This isn't to say I don't enjoy football, or that I'm not going to watch any games, or that I'm not going to go to any games, or anything like that. It's just that I'll do it with incrementally more rolling of my eyes and shaking of my head than I did last year. Thank God there isn't an NFL All-Star Game... oh, there is? Well at least it's not at midseason when I might actually feel compelled to watch.