Falling Out of Love… with the NFL

I am the least enthused about the 2014 NFL season than I have been about any NFL season in some time. Introspection time! Why is this?

  • Four years of 10 a.m. West Coast start times
  • Four years of watching illegal streams on a laptop instead of HDTV
  • Mediocre Steelers teams
  • Very good Pirates teams holding one’s interest past August
  • One year of making television for a basketball team every Sunday instead of watching football
  • A protest against the increasingly violent game crippling our young men and rattling their brains

Nah, it’s not the last one.

We may hear more and more from people who are feeling conflicted about watching a game in which talented young players are exploited for their skills, then ignored by an uncaring faux-non-profit that allows them to wither up before their time. I am not one of those people. That concern, while it is something to reckon with and fix, doesn’t really change my football viewing habits one bit.

Matt Ufford wrote a strong column about that concern, and it is completely worthwhile when Ufford questions whether he wants his child to love this sport or not.

I don’t want her sucked into this gravity field, supporting a league that cripples its employees and arrives late to social change. I don’t want her marginalized to the NFL’s sidelines, be it as a reporter with a glass ceiling or a virtually unpaid cheerleader adhering to insane and outdated workplace standards.

His qualms are valid and appropriate. They don’t play into my viewing or enjoyment of the sport. Fact is, all American professional sports traffic in some manner of labor exploitation, deafness to social change and degradation of women. We look past it and hold our nose all the time.

Really, my reasons for lack of enthusiasm about the NFL (other than the potential ones listed in bullets above) revolve around it being… somewhat boring. Somehow the game that markets itself as AMERICA’S SPORT OF EXCITEMENT has lost that quality for me. Maybe it’s a bit too polished and over-marketed now. Maybe the game itself has withered in comparison to the more free-slingin’-anything-goes-good-time college game.

I really don’t know what it is, so I’ll give you a good ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to go out on. I will still watch the games, certainly. But for some reason, it all feels different now.

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