Joe Kazmar

For The Record

As the National Football League’s 2016 season begins its eighth week this week several websites, newspapers and radio and television sports talk shows are indicating that the ratings have plunged downward somewhat so far this season.
There are scores of reasons and explanations for the drop in the football fans’ interest, some which make perfect sense to me and others that seem a bit far out.
We first must explain that the attendance at the games in the stadiums of the 32 NFL franchises is still as great as ever, with a majority of the games still being sellouts.
Very few players score a touchdown and then toss the football to a game official. Most spike the football, many do some stupid dance in the end zone and a few even taunt the nearest opponent or try to dunk the football over the crossbar of the goal post. A majority of these antics draw 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the ensuing kickoff.
ESPN reported after week 4 that taunting calls were up 220 per cent and unsportsmanlike penalties had increased 56 per cent.
Hard-core fans are getting sick and tired of the antics of these NFL players both on and off the field.
After all, you don’t ever see a secretary spike her ball-point pen after finishing a report for her boss or a mechanic spiking his rag after changing the oil in your car. They’re as successful doing their job as the football player is that scores a touchdown.
Another reason that fans are losing patience with an NFL game is that nearly every touchdown, fumble or diving catch must be reviewed in slow motion by the game officials. The head coaches can throw a red flag in disagreement of a referee’s decision which again takes more time.
So that’s the reason fans complain that there are too many commercials during a telecast—there is too much dead time while these plays are being reviewed.
But the billions of dollars generated by the NFL certainly don’t come from the spinning of the stadium’s turnstiles. The big money is what television networks pay to broadcast the preseason, regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl. And sponsors pay the networks big money to have their commercials aired.
There is speculation the waning interest of some fans is because of the lack of star quarterbacks following the retirement of Peyton Manning and the four-game suspension of Tom Brady. Others say it’s the NFL’s crackdown on celebrations this year.
According to an article by Scripps Media, Inc. “college football isn’t suffering the same kind of ratings drought despite similar concerns about player safety, even more games on TV and absolutely no celebrations. This is an NFL problem.”
The article believes the biggest cause for the drop in NFL-TV ratings is the series of scandals and controversies that seem to be the norm and the role of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as judge and jury in the punishments.
“Fans lose touch with the league when one of its richest owners, Stan Kroenke, refuses to even entertain talks with city leaders that wanted him to build a new stadium, moving the Rams out of St. Louis for a perceived larger pot of gold in Los Angeles,” the article states.
“When Colin Kaepernick decided to sit, then kneel for the national anthem, the NFL did nothing. While you may or may not agree with the reasons Kaepernick cited for his protest, it was a test for the NFL.
“Among the duties of players in the league is the expectation they stand for the national anthem. Like many employer/employee contracts, players are expected to avoid behavior that brings negative attention to the league. At many workplaces, a protest like that would be grounds for punishment, if not dismissal.
“The NFL’s decision not to punish Kaepernick or other protestors further alienated much of its fan base. They say it’s about free speech, which Kaepernick has. “But when wearing a uniform provided by an employer, you are not entitled to free speech, at least without consequences. So the NFL’s silence is looked at as support of Kaepernick.
“The NFL has lost touch. The league, its owners and players have no idea who their fans are or what they value.
“They’re learning the hard way this fall, as those fans turn their attention elsewhere,” the article concluded.
KWICKIES…There were plenty of opinions on the sports talk shows Monday about the Seattle-Arizona Sunday Night Football game that ended up a 6-6 tie after five quarters of play. Some say it was a great defensive battle while others thought it was just lousy offense. It probably was a combination of both. The kickers from both teams had an opportunity to win the game with a chip-shot field goal in the overtime period and both missed the kicks about the same distance as an extra point. The tie probably helped the Seahawks more than the Cardinals in the NFC West standings, because they have only one loss while Arizona has three.
Two of last week’s Top Ten teams in the Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll suffered losses which somewhat altered this week’s rankings. Alabama’s convincing 33-14 victory over Texas A&M dropped the Aggies three places from sixth to ninth. Ohio State’s shocking 24-21 loss to Penn State sent the Buckeyes tumbling from No. 2 to sixth place. Alabama retains the top spot followed by No. 2 Michigan which jumped two places, Clemson remained No. 3, Washington and Louisville each moved up one spot to No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, Ohio State is No. 6, Nebraska and Baylor moved up one spot to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, Texas A&M is No. 9 and West Virginia moved up two spots to No. 10.
While playing golf with Bob Hoepner Saturday morning at Sunset Grove Country Club, as we were coming off the No. 4 green we encountered a flock of more than 30 Canadian geese lounging on the grass near the No. 5 senior’s tee box. As we approached the tee, the geese got up and flew to the southeast over the trees and into formation. It was a neat sight to see. Luckily we got there before the geese had enough time to really mess up the landscape.
And speaking of Bob Hoepner, he played golf Friday afternoon with former Orange paper mill plant manager Harmon Beauchamp, who was visiting and playing with his son Allen and friend Woody Dorman. The 87-year–old Beauchamp still plays the game well and resides in an assisted living complex in Lynchburg, Va.
And while on the subject of golf, I was playing Thursday morning with Johnny Dugas and Charlie Blaylock. Dugas got a bogey-five on the first hole and then rattled off nine straight pars and did it on the over-seeded greens. Needless to say he won most of the money.
The Dallas Cowboys received good news Monday as reported by ESPN that All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant will be available for Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles which will be nationally televised on NBC.
JUST BETWEEN US…The last time the Chicago Cubs were in the World Series (1945) Ray (Mario) Dal Sasso was a young man just starting out in life. He is so thankful he’s still around to watch them this week against the Cleveland Indians. The Series began last night (Tuesday) in Cleveland for two games, and then moves to Wrigley Field for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary). I like both teams, but played for Mr Wrigley and I’m picking the Cubbies in seven games, so the series probably will return to Cleveland to be decided there.