2017 won’t be a banner year for the NFL. Ratings were low to start with, but now with a rash of injuries to marquee players in recent weeks, it’s unlikely to pick up. There is a noticeable cave-in on multiple fronts for the NFL. Whether it’s ratings, discipline, unity, or sponsorship, things seem to be tough all over for anything NFL related. Even for sponsors who make pizza.
Last week, John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, blamed the NFL for his sluggish pizza sales. His reasoning is that the NFL upset people, by not denying American athletes their First Amendment right to free speech. That’s funny because Dominos also advertises heavily during NFL broadcasts. Yet their Quarterly Earnings Report for Q3 2017, reported gains across the board.
While Papa John’s is better (as chain pizzas go) than Domino’s, it’s likely a case of people not wanting to support a Fascist pizza maker. (Personal note: I stopped supporting PJ in 2013 when I learned that he’d reduced employees hours, in order to protect his shareholders, as a corporate reaction to ObamaCare not being repealed. The link to his own words is right HERE
So people aren’t eating less pizza. We’re just not eating his pizza. He didn’t give a shit about us, so we stopped giving a shit about him. That’s the Golden Rule in effect. It’s Karma stopping by to say howdy. So it makes me wonder, maybe this season is the result of Karma also paying the NFL a long overdue visit.
By long overdue, I don’t just mean for the league’s poor handling of Colin Kaepernic’s ‘National Anthem’ protest. I don’t just mean for it’s inability to discipline Ezekiel Elliott for violation of league decorum. I don’t just mean for it’s spotty track record on domestic violence, which allowed Greg Hardy to keep playing, while simultaneously black-balling Ray Rice. I don’t just mean from it’s inability to learn from the Chris Henry and Fred Lane tragedies. I don’t just mean from it’s unwieldy response to players protesting a social issue, that has been blatantly misrepresented by some as either a protest of Old Glory (our nation’s flag), or of our troops.
I’m saying it’s not just one of those things. It is ALL of those things which has earned a visit from Karma, which the NFL (and it’s sponsors), were too arrogant to see coming. The NFL has for too long forgotten that people not commodities, play football. People not demographics, watch football. The NFL has forgotten to take care of the Human element, and now the Human element is to some extent, abandoning the league, like we have with Papa John’s.
Fans watch football as a form of entertainment. It’s escapism. It’s a place to shove reality aside for a bit, and enjoy a chance to cheer. To believe. Whether at home with a loved one, in a bar with forty “new friends”, or with fifty thousand total strangers in a stadium.
Fans don’t want the reality of social injustice or inequality intruding on their escapism. Fans don’t want to be reminded that not everyone sees the world the same way, or has the same experiences. Fans don’t want to hear that this nation is not as great for some, as it is for others.
As sports fans, we want to see ourselves this way:
However, the real world that we’ve all ignored (even when we aren’t at games), has intruded in on our game now. We are left faced with the same old divisions. Left avoiding the same old discussions, with the fractures of society now invading our escapism. This is nothing more than Karma. This is us reaping what we (you and I), as a society have sown.
As fans, it has left us believing less, and cheering less. That has lead to some people to watching less. Or not being able to “get into it” like they have in the past. It is our own lives, our own ended friendships and fragmented society which has come back to roost.
Papa John. The NFL. Everyone who isn’t an Eagles fan. What you are experiencing, is called Karma.