Tag Archives: Roger Goodell

Is the NFL Becoming the No Fan League?

just spoke my first wordThe result of NFL’s experiment in negative market dynamics has just come in and the news is not good for Commissioner Roger Goodell. Last September the NFL greatly increased the irritation factor of attending games when the league banned women’s purses that were larger than a pack of cigarettes for ‘security’ reasons. (Complete details here.)

This development was added to the existing $10 hotdog, $10 beer, $40 parking place, pauses in the action for commercials you mercifully can’t see, wildly expensive ticket prices and the owner prancing around on the sidelines.

It’s enough to make you want to dedicate your life to eradicating ‘income inequality.’

I wondered how long it would take the descending curve of a fan’s desire to attend an increasingly expensive NFL game to cross the rising nuisance curve of pettifogging NFL rules. Well now we know: It took four months.

As this is written three of the four first–round NFL playoff games have failed to sell out even though the deadlines for all three have been extended. Even in Green Bay — home of put the baby on the waiting list for season tickets — still has seats available. The important point about a playoff game failing to sell out for the fan base is not the dent in the owner’s bottom line. It’s the fact the game will be blacked out in the local viewing area.

This has not happened since 2002 when the Dolphins – Ravens game in Miami failed to sell out.

So why does the unrest surface now? Because this is the first time season ticket holders have been asked to make an additional ticket purchase since the new ‘security’ rules took effect. Up until now season tickets were already paid for and not using them would be like throwing money away. Or buying a Redskin’s ticket.

Many are finding the extraordinary cost of attending the game when added to the degrading, increasingly TSA–like experience of entering the stadium is simply too much. It’s easier, warmer and the seats are better when one watches the game at home. Assuming the rest of the sheep in your locale continue buying enough tickets to fill the stadium.

I realize the TV commentary can be annoying, but so are the observations of nearby drunks in the stadium and there’s always the off chance they may hurl on you. (Something that never happens at home. Although I’ve been known to get a touch of indigestion following Pam Oliver’s inane sideline commentary.)

Since I’m part owner of the Packers, lets look at that situation in detail. It may be as cold as 4 below at game time Sunday, but that’s not keeping the fans away. In 1967 the Ice Bowl between the Packers and the Cowboys was even more frigid, yet the stadium was full. The difference? In 1967 fans weren’t strip searched before they were seated. Now I can only imagine the lines of parka–clad fans extending outside Lambeau Field waiting for their carefully selected layering to be explored in detail by suspicious ‘security’ fingers.

And how exactly does the ‘no purse large than a pack of Marlboros’ work when both of the pockets on my parka are the size of dinner plates? I’ve seen kangaroos with smaller pouches. Are you required to stuff large pockets with cardboard to reduce carrying capacity? Or is it one of the dreaded case–by–case safety decisions?

And how about the fan that uses battery-powered gloves and boots to keep warm? He’s going to be treated like a suicide bomber when guards get a load of his power pack and the jumble of wires connecting. At the Ice Bowl you could have brought a Duraflame log into the stadium, today they confiscate your matches.

As a result there were 8,500 seats still unsold on Wednesday. This represents almost 12 percent of stadium capacity in Green Bay. In Cincinnati there were 5,000 to 6,000 unsold tickets and in Indianapolis the number was 3,000.

If these tickets were unsold in the summer for an exhibition game no one would notice. But playoff games are for all the marbles and should be of peak interest to fans. The Packers have sold out EVERY regular season game since 1959, a string of 55 years, and for part of that time the team played in two different cities. Alienating 12 percent of the base is a significant insult that does not bode well for the future.

(UPDATE: Green Bay has sold out and so have the other sites. But this does not negate my conclusion. In the Packer’s case the tickets were purchased in bulk by civic–minded businesses so the game would be televised. This only encourages long-term erosion in stadium attendance. In addition, the seats will now be given away, which means the cost portion of cost/annoyance ratio is significantly reduced, so the fans will probably attend. But the market had already spoken beforehand when 12 percent were unsold.)

Most of the commentary regarding the unsold seats focuses on the cost of attending games, which is high. But I think the straw that crippled this camel is the arrogance of the NFL owners and the constant annoyance of ‘security theatre’ drama before you get to your seat.

For fat cats like the Redskins’ Dan Snyder, fans are slightly overweight ATM machines that need to be milked regularly. If people object to being treated like cattle then let them buy their own football team. But the cattle are getting restless and the beginning of a slow motion stampede for the exits may have begun this year.

MSM Twits Distort a Tweet

Replacement ref throws up hands in disbelief. NFL rules a touchdown.

When reading MSM stories concerning the hypocrisy of Republicans or conservatives it is often difficult to decide whether the reporters are actively dishonest or just stupid.

An AP story by Scott Bauer and a Washington Post effort by Brad Plumer are prime examples. Both concern a tweet sent by Republican Gov. Scott Walker (R–WI) after the Green Bay Packers were robbed of their victory by a high school level replacement referee who was unable to distinguish between an interception and a touchdown.

Tuesday morning Walker tweeted, “After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs.” If you are a liberal journalist working for the Associated Press or the WaPost (I know that’s redundant) this is obviously an example of conservative hypocrisy.

The Post headline was: “Wisconsin governor fumbles on Twitter: Walker sees collective bargaining in a new light after the Packers’ loss.” The headline over the AP story was: “Union–busting Wis. governor calls for return of NFL’s union refs after call seals Packers loss.”

Both headlines reek of hypocrisy on Walker’s part and the Post even claimed a change of heart that existed only in the reporter’s fevered mind. But not all unions are alike, just as not all reporters are equally biased.

Both writers overlook the obvious fact that Walker’s fight in Wisconsin was against public employee unions and his tweet was about private sector unions. There is no hypocrisy involved in supporting one form of union and opposing the other.

Public employee unions are a conspiracy against the taxpayer. Union officials bargain with elected officials. The elected official wants union support in his next election. The union official simply wants more. They come to an agreement. The taxpayer, who picks up the tab, is not represented at the table. There are no market constraints on public employee unions. As long as taxes can be raised to cover salary, insurance and pension costs, the benefits keep rolling along.

This is not how it works in the private sector. Plumer attempts to graft the American Airlines’ labor dispute onto the Wisconsin controversy when he writes, “the referee feud is fairly representative of modern labor battles playing out in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”

This is simply false. Wisconsin labor disputes involved public employee unions and although flying American Airlines in many ways resembles a visit to the DMV, it is still a private sector entity with a private sector union.

Walker, as opposed to the two reporters, knows there’s a difference.

Another distinction is American Airlines declared bankruptcy because it could not survive in the private sector with the cost structure imposed on it by declining revenue and union contracts. Taxpayers and public employee unions are not involved.

The NFL referee’s union is obviously a private sector dispute being played out in public. And as a customer of the NFL and a supporter of the Packers, Walker is both intellectually consistent and within his rights to demand the NFL solve the problem by retuning the “real refs.”

Evidently this obvious distinction escaped the two “journalists” who thought they had a gotcha story.

On the other hand, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is the one with the political problem. He has manifestly failed and lost this strike. He has committed the cardinal firing offense for a business leader: being unprepared for a crisis he knew was coming, while debasing his product.

Goodell better hope he can keep 17 votes in his favor among the 32 NFL team owners. Otherwise he might be biggest casualty of this strike.