Earlier this year, it was easy to point to the NFL as the lone bright spot in all of sports. While leagues were shutting down for a would-be global pandemic, Roger Goodell kept the lights on. The league maintained its schedule by starting the league season on time, a solid free agency, and the NFL Draft.
More simply said, they were getting it right while other leagues were getting it wrong. The NBA, NCAA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and any number of organizations in this country and abroad effectively shuttered their businesses. Goodell, who didn’t take the advice of corona radicals like Mike Florio, spit in the eye of the critics and stayed open for business.
Now, on the eve of the 2020 NFL regular season, fans will need to brace themselves for the inevitable and never-ending social justice lecture that will accompany every game. If the league takes the cue from the NBA and MLB, expect messages that won’t always align with facts, and perhaps, most damaging, the potential for lost games if a player doesn’t feel quite right playing that day.
The NFL has made the decision to drag its fans through the political spectrum of those who seldom take into account critical realities. Instead, what you’ll get is the airing of grievances from players and now coaches who believe they know better than fans and viewers.
The result is already visible. Ticket sales are already lagging. As if the whole COVID-19 situation wasn’t debilitating enough, the wholesale embrace of a flawed social justice message may not be resonating with a large swath of fans. Whether it’s kneeling during the national anthem, shirts or helmets with slogans and names of sexual predators celebrated as “victims”, or the overplayed slandering of law enforcement, a tipping point could be sooner rather than later for the gold standard of all sports.
While the China loving NBA is totes cool with a product losing viewers, the NFL looks poised to also take that deep dive. Roger Goodell, who may come to regret taking a side, stands to lose more than any commissioner in any sport, professional or amateur. His leadership in the early days of the pandemic is in danger of being undermined by Twitter trolls and players who have more interest in being popular on social media and within the toxic circle of Black Lives Matter.
Most in this country are begrudgingly settling into a new normal, whatever that may end up being. However, should a “new normal” show itself as a weekly lecture on game day in the NFL, they will most likely find a smaller audience to shame, and the once gold standard in all of professional sports will go the way of every other league, who talked their fans out of watching their product.