NFL Football: An All-American Sport
Football in the USA style– also known NFL or NCAA football—is well-loved by millions of people all around the world. Every year, most of the United States and people in several other areas will tune in to watch the Super Bowl and several football games that are played each year.
Many football fans enjoy going to the different Bowl games, watching football on television, or going to their favorite sports bar to watch the game with friends. Today there is no other sport played that attracts so much attention from all around the world and in the United States. The Super Bowl can easily be called the biggest sporting event in the USA, as well as one of the largest in the world.
The Problem with NFL Football
While football may be one of the biggest and most lucrative sporting events in the United States, many football fans are worried that it may not last. In fact, the older generations of NFL football fans are nostalgic about the old days of football, when everything didn’t seem to be such a big deal.
Now, there are several controversies associated with this particular sport, with fans even coming to blows over who’s the better team. While controversies and scandals are not new to this sport or any other, the incidents have seemed to pile up over the years. This is why some say that NFL football might not be here to stay after all, at least not in the way we know it.
Several die-hard fans are also concerned that off-field incidents might be taking away the joy of the game itself. From player misconducts to protests at the time of the national anthem, the NFL football seasons seem to be increasingly politicized.
In order to better understand the turmoil surrounding this game and decide whether it will continue to be a permanent fixture of American culture, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the controversies so far. This will also be a good opportunity to look at some violent incidents within the sport and determine whether it should even continue or not.
Controversies in the National Football League (NFL)
The controversies in NFL football are usually concerned with questionable decisions on the part of the referee. However, there are several other issues as well, such as decisions about team relocations and even criminal offenses on the part of players. We’ll take a look at some examples here:
1925 NFL Championship
This Championship was awarded to the Chicago Cardinals but has been a controversial subject ever since. The league rules at that time stated that the NFL title was to be given to the team that held the best record when the season ended. According to them, the Pottsville Maroons were this team, having dominated the Championship though most of the season.
However, the open-ended schedule at the time meant that there were several slots for all the teams to participate in a playoff tournament from December 6 to December 20. This allowed them to make more money for everyone involved.
While the Maroons had the best record on December 6, they played an unauthorized game after that. This led to their suspension and removal from the NFL by Joseph Carr, the NFL commissioner. After this, the Cardinals easily won the tournament by playing against the weak opponents that were left.
Fans from both sides have argued about this case for decades, with the NFL investigating it twice. However, the decision favoring the Cardinals has always been upheld to this date.
There have also been several team relocations in NFL history. These are controversial moments, as a local team is usually the pride of the town. Loyal fans and local companies depend upon the team to bring them entertainment and business right in their own backyard. When a team leaves town, they’re bringing another area all those benefits, hence betraying their local fanbase and town in a way.
We’ll start looking at team relocation with the Colts move back in the 80s. The Baltimore Colts’ owner in 1984 was Robert Irsay. He spent several years trying to get the Memorial Stadium either replaced or renovated, as it was in a dilapidated state. When these failed, he relocated his team to Indianapolis, where the Hoosier Dome was built in 1982.
The move was facilitated with the assistance of Mayflower Transit, a moving company. They helped the team to conduct their shift at night so that the police and their fans wouldn’t find out.
About 12 years after this move, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore. The fans backlash to this led to a compromise, with the team getting a new name, the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns returned to the NFL leagues in the guise of an expansion team.
As recently as 2017, the city of St. Louis filed a lawsuit seeking recovery of damaged and lost profits from the constant team reshufflings. This was against all thirty-two of the NFL clubs along with the NFL itself. The St. Louis Country, the Sports Complex authority, and the Regional Convention were also part of the plaintiff party.
Player Conduct Controversies
A player conduct policy was set in place by Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2007. He did so in order to keep the off-field behavior of NFL players in control. There were several criticisms against this policy, especially as Goodell himself was known for depriving NFL teams of their prime draft picks.
The conduct policy was controversial in its structure, which didn’t really seem designed to stop problems arising off the field. It was more to mitigate a PR disaster after the arrest of players such as Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. The policy was not a set of rules and punishments, but more like a concept where Goodell had to power to punish on an individual case basis.
The list of criminal offenses (whether proven guilty or not) by NFL players is unfortunately quite long. Of these, O.J Simpson’s case is probably the most well-known one even to those not familiar with the NFL in any sense. Simpson’s trial was for the double murder of his ex-wife and her friend, though he wasn’t proven guilty in the end. While these incidents happened years after Simpson returned from the NFL, the scandal was extensively covered due to the fame he earned as a player.
Other criminal cases include Darren Sharper for rape, Darryl Henley for drug trafficking, Greg Hardy for domestic violence, and Michael Vick for illegal gambling, animal abuse, and illegal dogfighting. There are several more players with criminal offenses as well, all of which have threatened to bring down viewership of the NFL games in general.
Football is a contact sport, with all sorts of injuries occurring every day during play or practice. Of course, injuring the star player of another team will strengthen the chances of their rival winning, so there has been controversy where player safety is concerned. One instance is of Goodell fining Ndamukong Suh, a Lions player, for stomping. He did the same to James Harrison after the player did a hard tackle.
Concussions are quite a tragic occurrence in the NFL games, having led to no less than 8 deaths. However, the NFL has been found guilty of hounding physician Bennet Omalu or his findings on brain injury and damage in a Steelers player. The story of Omalu has created enough interest to be made into a movie.
More Penalties and Ratings
From 2009 to 2016, statistics show that the penalties in each game have gone up by about 20%. Even the first week of the 2018 NFL league saw an increase of 19% from 2017. These increases are large enough o cause controversy and backlash from fans, who don’t appreciate how complicated the rules are becoming. This reduced the competition quality, which in turn could lower viewership and hence destroy the whole point of the NFL in the first place.
Since 2016, the viewer ratings of NFL games have rope considerably. This is attributed to several reasons, including the issues with concussions, brain damage, off-field conduct, and many others. Uninteresting matchups, over-strict rules, and political issues are also a sore point, especially the 2016 Presidential Elections in the United States. For larger sports TV networks, even a small drop in viewership could mean huge losses.
The discussion on NFL controversies to date could be never-ending, especially as new championships and Super Bowls come up. Certain controversies might increase interest in the game, but most of them have certainly ended up reducing the true spirit of football according to several fans.
Still, it’s safe to say that NFL football and its games are an inseparable part of American culture. The Super Bowl alone has been featured as a must-see in several sitcoms and TV shows, while the Super Bowl season is the time for major advertisement campaigns by corporate giants. While NFL football might not be as important for future generations due to its controversies, it’s certainly showing no signs of going away anytime soon.