Thursday, October 8, 2015

NFL: Not Feeling Logic, A Divine Comedy (Sort Of)

It isn't very often that sports make me want to put my head through a wall. However, the world of mass media makes me want to do that every time I look at it or hear it. It's a cruel world that I live in. Go ahead, take the red pill and read.

Warning: There are probably going to be times where you shouldn't take me seriously. I'm going to throw a lot of unnecessary jokes in here, but it's being done to drive at my point. Warning over.


My main forte is acting and writing. By default, I study and critique a lot of different approaches and styles that are presented in a character and the environment. A lot of my training comes from--you guessed it--watching sports. Selling a product takes a lot a bit of acting sometimes, especially if you're trying to sell your cause. However, the product I am about to mention here has become this ugly-looking Brundlefly that got seemingly worse. Maybe some people other than myself just like to watch the world burn...?

The effects of sports-related products and their shenanigans have been a slow burn. In fact, I remember writing a piece about how ESPN was truly becoming a juggernaut in college sports and were becoming an influence in alignment, among other decisions. You can read this gem from four years ago here (and realize that I've become a better writer...somehow).

Since then, I've become older and a heck of a lot wiser about brands and products. The deeper you go into believing in a brand, the less likely you will see how ridiculous and silly it can be. When you're knee deep, it doesn't seem so staged. Admittedly, for a while, I had stopped watching sports shows. Even more, I've stopped watching the news altogether. The more and more I see it, it's almost like getting sucked into another matrix. As the great Kenny Rogers once sang: "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." Go ahead, you can keep on singing as I explain. After a while, you just have to say, "no mas," and run the heck away from all of this. Why? There is only so much in life that you can afford to take seriously.

Sports have their own media outlet of sorts, as the general public needs to know what is going on with their favorite teams and players around the league. However, certain body parts in this creature like to get pimples and ingrown hairs more often than not.

And this is the part where I mention the NFL.

Already known as the "No Fun League" by jocks and nerds around the world, thinking that they're funny and all, the NFL has slowly but surely become yet another interactive game of Chess for Dummies. I only say the "for Dummies" part because not everybody knows how to play chess. Anyway, as the NFL season unfolds, the drama and the staging keeps unfolding more and more like a spoiled onion, and it has become, fun to watch.

In general, the NFL has become a conglomerate all its own. You're either in or you're out. In the church of sports, American football takes up about five or six whole rows, while the other sports take up a couple of seats apiece. It also sits with its legs spread wide open while scratching the belly with one hand and stuffing the other hand in its pants much like Al Bundy before it.

Roughness and similes/metaphors aside, the magic of the NFL doesn't seem real at all now. It doesn't seem like the times of old where dudes are walking around with missing teeth and playing in sub-zero temperatures constantly. It looks more like a Hollywood film with each time you turn on a game. It has become a farce in of itself. The more you become a part of the drama and discussion, the further down the rabbit hole you fall.

Below are five main points on why I don't bother taking the NFL seriously anymore.

1) The commentary teams will always bring nonsensical business up.

Joe Buck aside (because America seems to love him so), you will constantly have to hear about lingering issues among players on and off the field. Some of them may have even happened five or six years ago, but we still have to hear about it. It's like they find it to be reverse psychology, or that everybody watching the sport at the time and is unfamiliar with the team has to be reminded of moot points that have nothing to do with what's happening down on the field. That, or these things are so incredibly important and crucial for the survival of the human race. Here are some brief examples:

Example 1: "[Insert team name here] has a vicious secondary, and the Giants' #1 receiver Victor Cruz may be a target due to a tender knee stemming from a season-ending injury from last year."
My response: That was last year. Plus, if his knee wasn't up to form, he wouldn't be playing.

Example 2: "Kirk Cousins, starting for the injured RG3..."
My response: As far as America is concerned, this is RG3 now. Anyway, this response always applies for someone replacing someone else. We could easily use this argument for Brandon Weeden replacing Tony Romo.

Example 3: "The rookie Jameis Winston [or Marcus Mariota]..."
My response: He's new and fresh, okay. But if he's playing like a seasoned veteran, there is no need. This also applies when a "mistake" is made. Even Jason Pierre-Paul makes mistakes, and he's a five-year vet with two Super Bowl rings. (For the record, I honestly wasn't referring to his fireworks accident.)

Example 4: "Sam Bradford has sustained two torn ACLs in consecutive seasons..."
My response: How long ago did these injuries occur? Is he walking? Excuse me while I groan.

Example 5: Obvious observation is obvious.
My response: Is your name Cris Collinsworth? But really--when an outsider sees an obvious catch or a clear holding call and can comprehend what happened, there is no need to explain it unless the player were catching a hot dog in mid-air or holding an adorable puppy that appeared out of thin air.

As you can tell, commentary can be rather irritating. In fact, not all games are meant to be filled with constant commentary. If you listen to radio broadcasts, you'll hear the crowd filling in the dead air. Why not on TV, too?

2) The ongoing wars (and meltdowns) between FanDuel and Draft Kings.

For those who don't follow sports at all--well, wait, why are you reading this then?--FanDuel and Draft Kings are a super-duper Readers' Digest version of fantasy leagues that most will join for an entire season. Instead of sticking by for an entire season, you pay a subscription, and at whatever point in a season, you can take part in a one-day draft, and you will earn money based on your successes. Of course, in the world of business, while you always need a competitor, the fantasy town isn't big enough for the two of them.

But the kicker is this: employees of either fantasy sports company have been creating accounts on their competitors' sites and have been using the information gathered from their own home base to win the cash and prizes. This, my friends, is a classic example of "the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer." It's like a bunch of kindergarten kids fighting over the scented Crayola crayons while you're in your own corner watching them as you color with your piece-of-crap RoseArt crayons. While the idea of the one-day drafts was fresh in the beginning, it's starting to take the shape of the "get rich quick" schemes, and the ones in charge of it are breaking it. Plus, it's getting rather annoying to know that they have enough money to run a 30-second spot at least three times during each commercial break.

[Note: They don't just cover football. They cover every sport as far as I know.]

3) ESPN and FOX Sports Network

I really don't need to say much more about this. To give you a decent visual of what ESPN and FSN does to NFL-related stories throughout the day, here is a really old YouTube video of a guy making Chinese noodles. I understand that people don't exactly watch the networks for 24 hours straight, but when it's the NFL, games are weekly, and things can often be repeated. It's a ton of ad nauseam and there isn't enough syrup of ipecac in the world to calm it down.

[And at last check, they still don't care much about hockey. Maybe that'll be another post someday.]

4) Obvious characterization of sports analysts.

Speaking of the sports networks above, we've got this to add onto the torture rack. Of course, sports networks are often seen as the male or sports-loving female's version of The View or The Wendy Williams Show, and I totally get that. However, some of the gushing love and bias that some analysts may have for specific players/teams can get rather nauseating. I'm looking at you, Skip Bayless. Oftentimes, these acts blur the lines between "fair and balanced" ethics and being totally hokey, and this leads to the offender to be just enough of an imp to aggravate the opposition to the point where they will turn full-blown hater all over social media. I've seen it before, and truthfully... It's a practice that is always in place for people to agree/disagree and have an opinion upon, but it's borderline fake and comical nowadays. Do we need more reasons to love Tom Brady and the heart of Tony Romo? Not really.

[Although, in reality, if you ignore them, they'll go away. But who listens to the rational one over here?]

5) Troubles with disciplinary measures and passive aggression.

You bet I'm going here. During the facepalm festival known as "Deflate-Gate," suspensions and fines were thrown on Tom Brady and other staff members of the New England Patriots, and the opinions of football fans and non-fans alike split the nation faster than the Coke/Pepsi wars. Numerous appeals and court cases later, Brady's four-game suspension was lifted, and he was able to start Week 1 against the Steelers. Usually, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, aka "The Most Powerful Man in Sports," attends the larger games of the season, including the kickoff to the regular season. However, he was nowhere to be found at Gillette Stadium, resulting in "Where is Roger" chants coming from the faithful around the stadium. Was he running scared? That is uncertain. However, a lot of people believed that he shied away from attempting to keep the suspension in place.

Plus, there are a lot of critics who find that more needs to be done in regard to players who have had run-ins with the law, especially when involved in domestic abuse charges. While this stuff isn't foreign to other sports, it's higher in nutritional value in the mass media's eyes, and a lot of these transgressions fall on Goodell in the end. The constant controversies that surround the NFL with fair playing practices and criminal charges have been frequent over the past five seasons or so, and it's almost become a soap opera that refuses to be canceled because Goodell won't make it so. Don't get me wrong, he's put on the man-pants before, but reactions of those around him as well as the fans have almost made him appear gun-shy.


Call me crazy, but after writing this piece (and reading it for errors), I feel like my life as a sports fan is a lie because it's slowly become a stage of corporate entertainment. Could you imagine if this existed in the days of Ancient Rome? [It sorta did, as far as blood money, but I digress.] Just think--there'd be some one-day draft for the rich people, and after a couple of giant scrolls displayed at ground level advertising some sort of male-enhancement herb provided by the Roman god Eros, the gladiators would try to kill each other, all while the Emperor sits above and checks the status of suspended gladiators that were supposed to be eaten by lions that week because they cheated somehow or got out and attacked women and children in the process. Like, things were still a show back then, but there wasn't an overdose of consumerism and the need to feed drama going on. Not even the Ancient Greeks had all of that business going on in their plays; they just acted because it was the thing to do.

It seems like it isn't so much about the game anymore, but the presentation of it and the constant need to keep people on the edge of their seats of anticipation.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

-- Stephanie