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The NFL is suffering, and it ain’t Colin Kap or #45’s Fault

Colin Kaepernick is an easy scapegoat; kneeling "to disrespect the flag" makes for a better narrative and grabs better headlines. Unfortunately, The NFL shield doesn't own a mirror.

The NFL killed the Golden Goose. You remember the story of The Golden Goose right? The Golden Goose laid golden eggs, but some idiot thought it would be a good idea to just kill the goose, open it up thinking they could just have all the eggs at one time. And of course once they open it up it was nothing inside but blood and guts. The end.

Even when I was 7 years old I knew that idea was idiotic.

But the NFL doesn’t seem to understand that. The NFL’s Golden Goose was local & regional network television bidding wars between networks on who could cover the most NFL action on Sunday. And when there were no more networks left to leverage bids against they expanded the weekly schedule by offering MORE days of NFL action. And then when that didn’t go far enough, they decided to create a network that was all NFL, all the time and then leverage THAT coverage with those same networks to satellite distribution companies to only show the highlights instead of complete games which is what we know as “NFL RedZone.”

Which may have totally worked at a much slower pace. BUT here’s where the NFL got greedy. And it’s the other side of the coin that rarely ever gets talked about.  Although ‘RedZone’ has increased our ability to watch games, the NFL has also done themselves a massive disservice by ruining the stadium experience. Prices for NFL games have exponentially gone up over the last 10 to 15 years. Now access to NFL footage, commentary, analysis and highlights have also drastically increased. The price of a ticket, hot dog and soda or even a beer, is pretty much the same as a car payment on a Lexus off the lot.

So here are some numbers. Back in November 2015, Fan Cost Index compiled by Team Marketing Report. The index includes the cost of four average-price tickets, two cheapest draft beers, four cheapest soft drinks, four cheapest hot dogs, parking for one car, two programs and two least expensive adult caps. In San Francisco’s Levi Stadium, that amounts to $640.

The $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium opened last fall and seats 68,500 fans. The stadium also hosted Super Bowl 50.

Oh, It gets WORSE.

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The Dallas Cowboys’ home field, AT&T Stadium, ranks as the second-most expensive place to catch a game. The rest of the top five most expensive teams to see at home are the New York Giants ($629.62), the New England Patriots ($624.70) and the Chicago Bears ($601.20). The average cost for a family of four to see a game at any NFL stadium is $480.89, including food, drink, parking, programs and caps. That represents a 0.5 percent increase over last year. Now supposedly, part of the reason NFL teams can charge so much is that there are so few games, roughly 25 if  you count preseason AND you make it to the Super Bowl. Professional football teams play just once a week and have a relatively short season compared to basketball (82 regular season games plus at most, 16 games, if you sweep in the post-season) or baseball (A Whopping 162 regular season games PLUS 13, if you sweep in the playoffs).

At the other end of the spectrum, the cheapest teams to see play at home are the Jacksonville Jaguars ($347.60), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($373.76) and the Buffalo Bills ($391.04).

Rare Air
Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds – Getty Images

And here’s where the problem becomes the NFL reality. It costs a fraction of those expenses to just go sit at a bar with friends. Or just invite family and friends over to the house. Which is in fact, where you see MORE Marketing and advertising dollars go into. Don’t believe me? Just go look at your local grocery store.

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The NFL either isn’t paying attention or really refuses to recognize its ability to manipulate the “free market”. You raise prices inside the stadium and  increase marketing to viewership outside the stadium to capture “guaranteed revenue” via television. Expect for a drop off. There’s no way around that. The NFL has burned the candle at both ends for a while now. Growth is finite; especially with limited demographics and population. The NFL can’t turn every person into a superfan.
Technology moves fast, but national economic growth has been very slow coming out of the recession. But in an altruistic vision of global dominance, The NFL has continued to do business as usual. Basically failing to adapt & moving as if growth is the only option.

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Colin Kaepernick is an easy scapegoat; kneeling “to disrespect the flag” makes for a better narrative and grabs better headlines. When all else fails, just blame somebody else. People with small attention spans and narrow minds need a villain and a face. Unfortunately,  The NFL shield doesn’t own a mirror.

-M.

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