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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rob’s Rants on Media, NFL Trashing Fans Over Lockout of Officials

          As the networks and media outlets attempt to make the return of the regular NFL officials into an NFL Films style triumphant victory for the fans, I’m not buying.

          Three weeks of tainted football, and now all is right with the world. Don’t think so.

          Did the Packers and the fans still get jobbed Monday night? Did the owners and Roger Goodell spit in our faces?

          Oh, yeah.

          Even after the proverbial dung hit the fan on Monday night when the scab refs literally gave a game to Seattle on one of the most obvious bogus calls ever seen in sports, the NFL issued an irrelevant statement completely ignoring the interception that the rest of the world saw. And, yes, they cost fans millions of dollars when they lost bets because the replacement referees were literally and figuratively out of their league.

          Yet, on Tuesday, local sports talker Mike Missanelli prattled on about misguided anger. Offering “next level thinking” he suggested fans needed to redirect their anger at officials toward the NFL owners. It was a weak attempt to pretend to criticize the NFL while actually tweaking fans. Complaining about the replacements is anger directed at the owners. In fact, he labeled one caller a liar for saying he won’t watch football.

          It’s a theme that is also in the national media. In his day job, Around the Horn clown Bill Plaschke wrote of fans suggesting that they would stop watching the games, “Right. Never happen. You won’t do it. I won’t do it. We can’t do it. We can’t take our eyes off the one league that is perfectly suited to the modern American lifestyle, and the folks who run this league know it.

          Simply by pounding away at this message the so-called independent media is nothing short of a lap dog for NFL. They’re essentially providing free advertising for the league. Companies pound their message with ad after ad, and eventually the product becomes ingrained in the mind of consumers. At least advertisers pay for their air time. The media does it for free to keep the NFL machine happy.

          It’s the same reason we never hear these guys beat the drum to legalize sports gambling. One of the undercurrents of their abuse of fans this week was that we only cared about the Monday night fiasco because of the point spread. They would jab fans with it whenever they ripped the NFL a little too hard. Apparently, point spreads are only important when they give their sponsored picks on games every week. They are as hypocritical as the NFL fighting against the legalization of sports betting, which is the sole reason football is the most popular sport in the United States.

          The fact is that they don’t want people to stop watching. These guys are as tied to the NFL’s success as anybody else. Of course they want us to think there’s absolutely no other choice than to watch football. I’ve heard another sports talker, Angelo Cataldi, say it for years – when the Eagles do well ratings go up. It’s easy to extrapolate the point to all sports media.

          The media says we literally can’t stop watching the NFL, and loves to report about record breaking ratings for games. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but how do we know what the ratings are? It took me two minutes to find this report from May, “The TV Sports Ratings twitter feed was brilliant and rankled PR staffs at all the major networks. Anonymously run, the feed would reveal TV sports ratings without the spin you get from the mainstream media and with relevant context. . . . The twitter feed often feuded with the PR flacks at Fox, especially during the World Series when the network tried to pump up ratings that looked good on paper … until you stepped back and looked at the big picture.”

          Do I know if this is true? No. But why would Fox care about a Twitter report on ratings? It’s not exactly a secret that hype about ratings can improve actual ratings.

          Here’s a perhaps more believable stat, “The Week 3 Packers/Seahawks ‘Monday Night Football’ game drew a 10.3 U.S. rating and 16.167 million viewers on ESPN, down 3% in ratings and 5% in viewership from Washington/Cowboys last year (10.6, 17.104M), and down 5% and 7%, respectively, from Packers/Bears in 2010 (10.8, 17.454M). Despite the decline, the game ranks as the sixteenth-most viewed ‘Monday Night Football’ game on ESPN (106 telecasts dating back to 2006), and the most-viewed ‘MNF’ telecast of the young season.” Even the positive angle compares the game’s ratings to other MNF games on ESPN as opposed to when it was at its most popular on ABC. Those comparisons don’t mean anything.

          Plaschke’s spin? “Immediately after the ESPN telecast of the Seattle Seahawks' wrongly being awarded a game-winning touchdown on the final play against the Green Bay Packers, ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ drew the largest audience in the history of ‘SportsCenter.’”

          Last time I checked people tuning in to watch coverage of one of the NFL’s biggest debacles ever isn’t evidence that people will never turn away from the league.

          I’m not denying that people will still watch football. But the reality is that the game’s integrity took a major hit this season and the media can’t wait to sweep that fact under the rug. It’s bad enough to watch Roger Goodell’s arrogance as he destroys the league. We don’t need a media pretending to criticize him yet all the while carrying his bags.

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