by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | December 27, 2017 2:06 pm
The National Football League has decided to cancel the last “Sunday Night Football” game of the season, in a move that will undoubtedly leave conservative Americans jumping with joy. It certainly isn’t unexpected, but it’s a pathetic ending to the year for the NFL. They didn’t announce which teams would be playing and decided that because it wouldn’t have any playoff implications for either one or both teams, decided to simply not schedule the game. This is a direct result of Americans tuning them out and boycotting the NFL over the National Anthem protests by players.
Would this kind of game be too straining on their wallet, or did they decide that not enough people would tune in and decided to simply scrap it altogether? Probably a combination of both things. Instead of ending with a traditional night game, which usually features two playoff contenders, the season will wrap up with a heavier-than-usual afternoon slate of gridiron battles. The reason? Ratings are always the deciding factor.
Another problem with the airing in question is that it would take place around New Year’s Day, which would pull in an even smaller audience than usual. With their recent dip in ratings, it’s unlikely that they wanted something so pitiful on their record. Of course, it doesn’t fool anyone on just how bad things are in the NFL these days.
“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. windows,” said Howard Katz, NFL broadcast chief. “This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams.” Nice, two-step there. Since I speak fluent bull crap, I feel qualified to tell you that they scrapped it because no one was going to watch the game.
The most recent time that a New Year’s Day game was played was in 2006, when Brett Favre played his last game with the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears. Despite the fact that this was a high-profile and highly anticipated game, it only drew in 13.4 million viewers which – at the time – was a quarter of the usual audience.
Given that the anthem protests have driven down the normal ratings of NFL games, it’s not a surprise that they have made this decision. It has been a really hard year for them all around and hopefully, they can get their act together in 2018 and bring themselves back. But I wouldn’t hold my breath over it. I know a great number of people who felt that they were forced to give up their favorite pastime because of the disrespect being shown not only to the flag, but to our country as a whole. This is almost certain to heat up again as the post-season and Super Bowl draw bigger audiences, the league has seen the impact of sexual misconduct allegations… one of which led to the Carolina Panthers going up for sale. And one of the buyers is supposedly Kaepernick. What’s more, ratings for televised games are down 9% from a year ago.
All of Sunday’s games will be broadcast on CBS or Fox. NBC won’t have a game this coming week and NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to comment about whether the network would be compensated for the lost broadcast. Unlike other weeks of the season, the NFL has the sole discretion about the scheduling of the final Sunday night game of the year.
I would love to be able to support teams again (though I’m a filthy casual who only watches the Super Bowl because my state doesn’t have an NFL team and I don’t care about the sport all that much), but I feel like I have to choose between America and football and let’s be honest, NFL teams don’t go to war when the country is in danger, so the choice is clear.
Maybe 2018 will be the year that this country returns to normal. I won’t put any money on it, but I’ll hope anyway. My bet would be on the NFL sinking into oblivion over all this and it’s hard to argue that they deserve just that.
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