Back in 2009, fellow NPIer Josh asked, “What Common Human Behavior Will be Viewed as Mistaken in 100 Years?” He used that question to talk about vegetarianism, but the question popped into my head recently regarding football. It is starting to seem inevitable to me that football—a sport everyone here at NPI loves—will be seen as barbaric and immoral in a generation or two. The more science exposes about the long-term effects of concussions and subconcussive impacts, the more it seems that there is simply no safe way to play football.
Right now, however, football’s popularity seems invulnerable. The highest rated show on TV last year was Sunday Night Football; it was so highly rated that it, combined with the Super Bowl, kept NBC—NBC!—from finishing last among the four major networks this season. This year’s BCS National Championship was watched by 24.2 million viewers, and that was the lowest rated championship of the BCS era. In a recent piece on football’s popularity for Grantland, Chuck Klosterman pointed out that 25 million people watched the NFL Draft, “a statistic that grows crazier the longer you dwell upon its magnitude.” And, if anything, the football’s popularity seems poised to grow as an influx of popular young stars like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Tim Tebow enters the league.
In other words, football’s decline seems both inevitable and impossible. Continue reading »
What we read while returning from our covert mission overseas…
What we read while they got really excited for the Pro Bowl in Cairo…
What we read while eating a goddamn snack on Revis Island:
Gilbert Arenas is a pretty funny guy, huh? I mean, I haven’t seen humor that black since George Bluth died.
Now, I’m generally not pro Bringing Lethal Weapons To Work. And I generally think it’s okay for employers to fire employees for moral reasons, particularly when the “employer” is as squarely in the public eye as the NBA is. But I think it’s naïve to say that the NBA is in the same position as any other employer.
There was a lot of debate about a similar topic last year, when Roger Goodell decided to reinstate Michael Vick in the NFL. Some people were adamantly on Vick’s side, saying that he had paid his debt to society by spending two years in prison. Therefore, the NFL should honor that “clean slate” by reinstating him.
Other people, though, thought that simply being in prison did not fully warrant a return to football. After all, Vick’s “crime” wasn’t only breaking the law, but tarnishing his image and the image of the NFL. The NFL can choose not to hire an ex-con just as any private company or institution can refuse to employ someone based on his or her background.
Like the NBA, though, the NFL can’t just use this excuse. Both professional leagues have, for all intents and purposes,* a professional monopoly on their sport—if I want to be a pro football player, the NFL is really all that’s available to me.
*There are other basketball leagues, just as there used to be other football leagues, but the difference in scale and salary is such that it’s ridiculous to compare the two. Continue reading »
ESPN ran two stories yesterday about Michael Crabtree and his contract situation. For those unfamiliar, Crabtree was selected tenth overall, by my own San Francisco 49ers, in last spring’s NFL Draft, but he has not, as of yet, signed with the team.
The dispute stems from the fact that the team feels that Crabtree should be paid like the second wide receiver taken in the draft (i.e. slightly less than what the first receiver selected, Darrius Heyward-Bey, got paid), which he was. Crabtree, however, feels like he should be paid like the best receiver taken in the draft, which he was.
Now, I don’t intend to dwell on this particular dispute, since Bill Simmons addressed it in his inaugural “Miller Lite Great Call of the Week,” and the only person criticizing Crabtree now is the less-than-respected Scoop Jackson.
But I think it’s interesting that someone like Crabtree can have his character and intelligence questioned for employing, essentially, his only bargaining tool. The fact that Crabtree is refusing to sign and play for the 49ers is being interpreted as a sign that his inner circle is nefarious and that he is not a “team player.”
This is a ridiculous double standard that athletes are held to. The contract rules that many athletes play under, particularly in the NFL, are incredibly unfair. Continue reading »