Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Decline of the NFL

The following article appeared in the American Thinker on February 10th

Twenty eighteen marks the third straight year that NFL Super Bowl viewing declined.  While many media outlets blame the downturn on Colin Kaepernick and the player protests started in 2016, in reality, the protests could be only one of many reasons why Americans are choosing to shut off the television and not watch the Super Bowl.

It's possible that the NFL has miscalculated its viewership because it has ill estimated what it is selling.  The NFL is a league of the best football competition in the world, and the Super Bowl is the last game of the season between the two best teams in the league.  That should be enough to draw a massive audience, and yet it's not anymore.  Why not?
In 2015, almost 115 million Americans tuned in to watch the Super Bowl.  This gigantic demographic – over one third of the total population of the United States – must have no doubt included the very old, the very young, the very rich, the very poor, the very beautiful, the not so beautiful, the teetotalers, the raging alcoholics, and everything in between.  And yet to watch the halftime show, one would think the NFL's only viewers are liberal twenty-somethings from California, with no family responsibilities and an interest in making an epic sweep in the here and now.

In 2015, the peak year, Katy Perry rode into the halftime show on a mechanical tiger in a body suit and a super-tight ponytail yanked mercilessly onto the top of her head.  She bragged to her audience, "I kissed a girl, and I liked it."  Then, while singing a duet with Lenny Kravitz, she kneeled beneath him as if about to perform a sexual act on him.  This was followed by Missy Elliott imploring her audience to "Get Your Freak On," an expression that Urban Dictionary tells me means "to have sex."  Families watching the Super Bowl together may not have wanted the embarrassment of explaining to Grandma what "getting your freak on" means, or the suggestion to an eight-year-old girl of what Katy Perry is doing kneeling beneath Lenny Kravitz that way.

The following year, 2016, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars headlined with Coldplay.  While Coldplay's performance was lukewarm, Beyoncé's was disturbingly memorable:

I go hard, I go hard
Get what's mine, take what's mine
I'm a star, I'm a star
'Cause I slay, slay

The full lyrics of that song are much more graphic and raunchy than the sections performed at the Super Bowl, but the damage to the NFL's image was already done.

Beyoncé's cast of dancers, dressed as Black Panthers, lionized a radical insurrectionist group responsible for the deaths of many police officers in the '60s.  Some members of the group were even found guilty of murder within the Black Panther Party.  The lyrics of "Formation" together with the dancers' almost military formation were chilling, even evil, with this evil presented as virtue.  And the Marxist-Leninist creed espoused in the song and the dancers' presentation, coming from a star worth almost a billion dollars, was just too much for some viewers to stomach.  Americans love football, but they are not willing to be bludgeoned over the head by virtue-signaling leftists like these.

Twenty seventeen – Lady Gaga took a turn at the halftime show, and judging by the comments on YouTube about her performance, she succeeded in captivating her audience.  Lady Gaga's moral signals are all over the place.  However, if I had to reduce her shtick to seven words or less, I might call it "androgynous nihilism with a heart of gold."

"I'll get him hot, show him what I've got," she crooned, thrusting her hips in a shrink-wrapped metallic leotard.

"We're here to make you feel good!  You want to feel good with us?" she asked, sidling up to the piano.

Her lyrics are dark and wanton ("I want your ugly, I want your disease.  I want your everything as long as it's free."), and her body language is provocative.  At one point, she had one leg propped up on the piano bench, the other straight, her crotch extremely visible to the camera.  Innocently, she said, "Hi, Mom and Dad."

It's all a little overwhelming.  I can see why a parent might decide to just check the scores periodically and opt out.  I have a difficult time processing Gaga's messages, but for a child, I can imagine that the performance would be mind-blowing.

Giselle Bundchen recently made headlines for telling her own kids, who were disappointed with the Patriots' loss: "We need to share.  They [the Eagles] haven't won in a million years."  She made it seem as if the Patriots took pity on the Eagles and let them win.

I have a feeling I am not the only one having difficulty processing.

Ed.  The author is quite right about the increasingly raunchy nature of halftime performances at the Super Bowl. But I believe many fans have bailed as a result of the slide rules and micrometers applied to every score and half of the tackles. Decades of fans tuned in to watch a game…a sport, not the endless application of stop-motion photography and the mathematics of trigonometry. It’s time to end the second and third guessing of every call, every catch and every touchdown.

Also, the game has officially become one of pitch and catch. There were nearly 1,200 yards of offense rung up in Super Bowl LII and 74 points scored. I favor a return to the days in which defenders were allowed to hit receivers UNTIL the ball was in the air; also, let’s once again turn quarterbacks into football players, make them fair game for hits and tackles. 

Many of us remember the cheers of "Defense," "Defense" coming from the stands as thousands worked to inspire The Purple Gang and The Steel Curtain. 

I have yet to hear a rousing roar of "Offense," "Offense!"

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