Thur$day Night Football

In Roger Goodell’s tireless quest to further monetize the NFL (because you know these owners are broke and whatnot), the Thursday night on-field product suffers and injury risks rises

By David Hauser

Roger Goodell, the self appointed crusader and czar of NFL player health, found it within his complex web of cognitive dissonance to courageously demand teams play on 3 days rest, so the world can get yet one more night of football…and perhaps, oh I don’t know, his owners can make a few more greenbacks.

In yet another bout of wild hypocrisy (to go along with “Bountygate”), for the first time ever the NFL has scheduled weekly Thursday night games in order to commandeer one more night of voluptuous and bountiful TV ratings.  Better yet, with the Thursday night monopoly on professional football his The NFL Network can gain further leverage with Time Warner Cable in their endless bickering to add the 24-hour football network to more households (at a hefty price of course) and big markets.

What is lost in all of this is the fact that the product looks terrible on Thursdays.  The complex uptempo offenses, amazing quarterback play, and gifted skill players fans have fallen in love with in the last 2-3 seasons all require time to master execution and rest up from the prior week’s bloodbath.  But Goodell won’t have it, not when there is more $$$ on the table.  Goodell shrewdly selected a Bears v. Packers matchup, that had all the makings to be one of the best games of the year.  But due to his greed and insistence on placing this game on a Thursday night to spotlight his network (making it ever the more noticeable to cable viewers who do not receive the NFL Network), what could have been one of the marquee games of 2012 turned into an unwatchable slopfest.

Yes, Clay Matthews racked up 3 sacks and both defenses were conceivably more active, but anyone who watched the game knows that this was more of a product of offenses depleted of healthy skill players, lacking practice, and unable to execute.  Mark me down as one voice willing to forego an extra night of football to enhance the quality and health of the game.  And Roger, your big crafty master plan to convince me to call up my cable company on YOUR behalf to beg them to pay your ransom for your precious product…yeah…that’s not happening either.

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The Employed Ones: Free Agency Culture of the NFL vs. NBA

By David Hauser

Jobs.  Ask any politician a question this political season and he or she will inevitably find a way to bring the conversation back to jobs.  Politicians may be underhanded and smarmy, but they still remain a better metric than even twitter for assessing the most salient issue of the day (as of course, they must be on the cutting edge of what best to pander to).  Since the worldwide economic collapse in the Autumn of 2008, we have seen American state governors wage war against unions, politicians get tagged with the vaunted “socialist” label, endless political arguments about whether cutting taxes or increasing government spending is a sounder methodology for creating jobs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, and I can only guess the term “job creation” will be plastered and super-glued to our nation’s collective forehead over the next eight months as Barack Obama and (seemingly) Mitt Romney vie for the White House this November.  The operative word in this endless political theater is: labor.

As writer and pop-philosopher king Chuck Klosterman pointed out last year, every major sports and cultural story of 2011 revolved around labor.  Two of the three most popular American sports leagues had labor disputes over the same three to fourth month period.  Charlie Sheen fought his highly publicized dispute with CBS all because of labor.  Hell, even the lowly Detroit Pistons tried to organize a strike against their own coach last year by not attending practice as their unfortunate season wound to a close.  In what must be perceived as some kind of socio-cultural clash of class and wealth, this country is in the midst of a major financial distribution transition and without coincidence the sports world mirrors the broader American culture in coming to grips with this issue.

For the third year in a row, the NBA’s on court brilliance has been hijacked by the labor narrative.  Dwight Howard’s “Indecision 2012” significantly overshadowed the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  NFL fans, who were not afforded the fast-paced rush of a traditional free agent signing period last year due to the NFL’s aforementioned labor dispute, are treating this year’s free agency period as some kind of sacrosanct religious experience (with the likes of Mario Williams, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow on the move).

More than ever, sports fans are wholeheartedly consumed by free agency player movement.  Through some form of fragmented sublimation of our country’s unemployment crisis, it remains easier to analyze and critique the labor relations of our athletes and celebrities than internalize and personalize our own fears about the rapidly shifting wealth and labor landscape in America. Continue reading