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Friday, February 02, 2018

New generation of men doesn't like football

Nothing lasts forever. Things eventually change. The age of billion-dollar TV contracts (like the one Fox just signed for Thursday Night Football rights) may be nearing the end for the NFL.

Men 18-to-49 increasingly just aren't interested in the NFL.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found "just 51% of men aged 18 to 49 say they follow the NFL closely, down from 75% four years ago."

So a bare majority of them cares about the NFL. This is the demographic group that produces the players and is the target of the NFL's advertisers.

If I boycott, who cares? I'm 64. I've been dead to most TV advertisers for 15 years.

But the league thought it owned American men 18-to-49. That was why it tried to expand to other countries and made players wear pink shoes every October. (My wife followed the Browns long before the shoes came along.) The league wanted Hispanic audiences and viewers in England, as well as more women viewers.

Now the poll shows its base is shrinking.

"Sunday night’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles comes at the end of a troublesome season for the league. The best players got hurt. The owners publicly quarreled. The decline in television ratings steepened. And the league became a polarizing political lightning rod, entangled in an imbroglio with President Donald Trump over player protests during the national anthem," the Wall Street Journal reported.

That last item is a marketing mistake. How do you market yourself as a national pastime when you allow -- and encourage -- players to protest the flag and the national anthem that pays tribute to that flag?

But the league remains the Top TV show -- by far. It could lose 10 million viewers on Sunday compared to the previous Super Bowl and still draw twice the audience of any others how this year. The game's ratings are still at the level of the Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan.

And as much as I would like to credit Trump for the decline in the NFL's numbers to President Trump, the problem is bigger than him. Still, it is a dumb idea to write off every patriot and Trump supporter like that.

The bigger problem is other sports exist -- UFC, WWE, and soccer -- that draw viewers from the NFL. It co-exists well with the NHL, NBA, and MLB, but these new sports are more direct competitors. The viewers they drain are small in number. For now.

Other interests exist as well.

Politicizing the game was a dumb idea.

But the real problem for NFL football is that a large number of young men no longer care.

What color shoes do the players have to wear to win them back?


Good news.

"Fake News Follies of 2017" will be available on Kindle on February 6.

Order it here.

I want to thank the news media for its help in writing my new book, because I could not have written it without their lies, spinning, and cover-ups.

The paperback edition will likely be published this weekend.

Autographed copies are available. Email me at for details. I am including a "director's cut." I'll email you back the original Chapter 1 that I cut because while the chapter was amusing, it really had nothing to do with the "Fake News Follies of 2017."

Ben Garrison did the cover and I am so happy with it. I told him what the book was about, sent him a copy of the manuscript, and he came up with a perfect cover. I am so pleased.


  1. The game is too different from the game played in the backyard. Everything became too specialized. No players do more than a few of the basic skills (running with football, throwing football, kicking football, blocking, tackling, defending pass, catching football). Players have become interchangeable cogs and it is more of a stragic chess match now. Reduce the rosters to 20 players and get better all round athletes.

    1. That parallels an observation from an Australian Rules Player who joined an NFL team's training session. The training crew each had one very small and sharply defined role. Our lad added that all these people were very happy to talk about their field, but any question that ventured outside it was immediately snuffed with 'That's not my job'.

    2. Good points about US football, which I agree with. The game's drowned in molasses & runs by the timing of TV commercials which doesn't help. Too much jawing and too little doing, IMHO.

      Aussie Rules is the football game I wish I could watch on TV. Faster than greased lightning, no armor worn, amazing athletics and half the game seems to take place in mid-air (that's where the ball is often caught.) None of this time-out-for-half-an-hour crap every 5 minutes!

      Ah, but there aren't any Clydesdales- so forget it!

    3. Hope this helps, Esky.

  2. Too many f---ing commercials. I became a soccer fan back in the early 80s while stationed in West Germany. 45 minute halves with no time outs. Games rarely lasted more than two hours. Action. Saw FC Cologne play multiple times. Just a better product.

  3. I wish I could say it was the protests and anti-Trump rhetoric that drove me away, but I was already gone as a fan before that. Michael Vick getting signed by my favorite team (the Steelers) played a part. But the biggest reason I can't watch NFL football anymore are the brain injuries. The suicides where the athlete shoots himself in the chest and not the head-and-mouth specifically so his brain can be studied. The Junior Seau suicide was the one that did it for me. I couldn't enjoy watching young men being forced to kill, maim, and destroy themselves for my entertainment.

    So now my "football" team is Tottenham Hotspur.

    1. #TheRealSpurs! Well, I jumped on board the Lestie City Train last year...very much like Mr. T's run. But Koln is still number 1 in my heart.

  4. College football is doing okay, even in the target demographic. It's the professional version that is suffering from overexposure and overreach, too much politics, missteps by clueless team owners, and the recent dominance of teams (one in particular) the fans love to hate.

  5. At our ages, Don, we have seen too much and heard too many false promises from advertisers to fall for them anyway. Our experience tells us to take it all at far less than face value. Not to mention my training in logic. How can I pay attention to all the ad hominems, bandwagon appeals, and post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies in both politics and especially advertising? -- BJ54

    1. That's a good point, but it's not necessarily just your generation. It's possible that advertising itself has run its course. Back in the days of "This program is brought to you by Lux dishwashing liquid!" the media itself- radio or television- was a novelty. That's not true anymore, but the business model hasn't changed much. HBO and Netflix are running away with TV market share, and I would argue that the fact that they work on a subscription model, rather than ad revenue, is one of the reasons why. If ads stop translating into sales, then ads will become obsolete. I think this may be happening.

  6. They lost me with the horrible way they handled deflate-gate (and I am not a Patriots fan).

    Boxing and Horse Racing used to be popular. Football is arcing that way.

    And they do not count yesterdays Jeopardy players as fans. After the show I was laughing about it to my wife. And I am not alone!

    1. You saw that too, Schlongy?! Hahaha. I ran the category. Yeah, the world continues to change...

  7. Back when Tony Hoaxheimer was doing football on ESPN I heard Peyton Manning say that he now watched football with the sound turned off. Knew that heralded the end. Several years later I stopped watching altogether. Don't miss it a bit.

  8. The advertising is so bad, all PC all the time. I wouldn't watch at all except Brady and Belichek produce an athletic greatness that will not occur again in my lifetime. Amazing stuff too rare to pass up. Soccer for me is like watching grass grow and it is full of histrionic fakery, although the foot skill is cool. To each his own.

  9. I lost interest in football years ago, as I did with baseball. Never cared for basketball.

  10. If the cable company eliminated all sports from my cable, the only reason I would know is because the channels would be missing. They are skipped (just like commercial TV channels and shopping networks) as I channel flip unless I see a Canadian Football League game playing. (Not sure why I prefer their version of the game over the NFL...just do.) In fact, I think I would much prefer to have a channel lineup without sports on it, but cable companies have to have ESPN on their list as that provides a good chunk of their revenue. Last I saw it costs about $6 for ESPN. Most others cost less than $2.

    BTW, I haven't watched the NFL since I left CA back in '92. I haven't seen (or missed not seeing) the Super Bowl, especially the half-time shows, since long before then.

  11. I was backing down on the NFL for a number of years. But, when the Broncos screwed Tebow, Drafting him, putting no effort into his development, particularly after what he did that first year, I wrote off the NFL.

    1. Probably one of the five best playoff games I've ever seen. Beatin on the wall after Tebow hooked up with Demaryius in OT. I won't be watching on Sunday either, though.

  12. Replies
    1. Boo.

      GREAT live, but horrible on TV. And Caps tickets are a hundie apiece for third level seats these days. Pass.

  13. Replies
    1. It's about shopping at Costco pre-Superbowl Sunday.

  14. Funny, when former Dallas Cowboy wrote North Dallas Forty and a movie was made from it, it showed the excesses, criminality, and cold-blooded operations, the NFL was supposedly in the throes of controversy.

    Yet, it survived and thrived, boomed, you might say.

    It will survive, but it does need to change.

    1. there's a difference between “Hey, these guys who want my money and respect are kinda messed up, aren’t they?”, and “Hey, these guys who want my money and respect are ignorant trash who make no secret of their hatred and contempt for my country and me personally.”.
      Fire and blacklist every one of the kneelers and I’d still never watch another minute of an NFL game.

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