Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The NFL Doesn't Get To Be, Or Care About, Trolls Anymore

Will Continue To Buy In
So here we are, a week after the Miami cesspool achieved public noses, and the majesty that is free speech means that we've got any number of regrettable retro men and she-men talking on the Internets and talk radio about how this is all part of how Women, They Ruin Everything. (Or The Left, or Obama, or Liberals, or Demmycrats, or Socialist Commie Panty Wearers Of Either Gender. I know, I should have just stuck with Women.)

And, well, far be it for me to stand in the way of free-range misogyny. I haz daughters and wife myself, and depending on the day's crisis, I am right there with you in terms of longing for the company of men who regard conversation as the greater of two evils. (The dog is male. And beloved.) And slapping down trolls, even when I am among their number, seems hardly befitting my electrons and your eyes. But let me get just a hair deeper than Don't Be Dickish. The simple fact of the matter is that the NFL has to go beyond the troll market of 100% Manly Men, because that's where the money is.

Think (yeah, I know, not the strong suit of Troll Nation) about it. Why do you see all of those wince-inducing NFL Shop for Women merch commercials? Because those people are the *new* consumers, you mooks, and need to be informed about how important it is to have their own up to date personalized jersey that shows your support of some current occupier of the laundry. Why is every NFL team pink-washed as if the pink-washing people do anything to benefit cancer research? Because those are the new consumers, and painting the talent in pink tells them that they're helping, the same way that all of that stuff at the supermarket does. Why does the NFL force-feed games into London? Because Road Gaming to a premier travel destination gets the demo up, and taking your girl to the UK is worlds better, and always will be, than 2/3rds of the domestic destinations. But wait, there's more...

Why is the league working up the concussion procedures, when they spent decades working a Cigarettes In The '60s level of scientific tomfoolery about the issue? Because moms can stop kids from playing the game, and also makes them wonder if maybe coming in from the cold and watching the games isn't really something they want to do after all. Or why the halftime acts at the bigger games have been slowly but surely moving away from Geezer Acts For Viagra Users to Uncomfortably Young And/Or Gayish Acts From This Century?

Again and again and again, to bring in the marginal / middle / new consumers. The trolls are *always* going to watch the NFL. We could make it two-hand touch with judges adding figure skating style points for the most artistic kind of touchdowns, and there is still going to be cherry-popping joy from Hated QB going down from a blitz, and Dallas Fan losing his mind over his team taking the pipe in Week 17. I can tell you, personally, that I'm going to watch every Super Bowl broadcast for the rest of my life, even if we get ten straight years of the Patriots facing every NFL East franchise that isn't my Eagles. (I think I just invented my next month of nightmares.)

But what about the people who haven't seen the past 35+ years of games, or can take or leave the Big Game Telecast? Ah, that's the rub. And who are those people, really? Well, um, not to put too fine a point on it, but they are women. Or, at least, they are incredibly more likely to be women.

See, this is the side effect of the NFL becoming the only surviving mass media interest, and the only event every year that the majority of television viewers are watching, or have any amount of commonly held interest in. It has to take on all of the trappings of mainstream culture. Which means that locker rooms can't resemble prison yards anymore, and players can't be happy about knocking other players out, even if it greatly increases their team's chances of winning. You can't take an intentional penalty in an underhanded way to intimidate the way that, well, the Raiders, Bears and Eagles did in the '70s and '80s. If you videotape teams in practice or snoop on their radio transmissions, you will not be praised for your subterfuge and your daring; you will be pilloried as cheats.

We have to care, or at least pretend to care, when a guy is caught on HGH or any other prohibited substance, and if anyone ever admits to paying attention to their fantasy value or the point spread, we will scold them within an inch of their life. Because that's what Mom would do, and we don't get to ignore her any more just because the game is on. (Partly because, well, there is *always* a game on now.) And soon, very soon if the map for marriage equality is any indication, you aren't going to be able to use homosexual slurs anywhere near a microphone, or equate your opponent with female sexual organs, or have the option to not attend your child's birth even if the game is super important, and you are playing in it. Networks care more about Personalities (Tebow Tebow Tebow!) than professionals; we are not putting that toothpaste back into the tube.

Sports is no longer an escape from civilization, or "reality" television, or women, or advertising advertising advertising. (Think: has any NFL player been ad-slut-shamed, ever? No. And dear Lord in heaven, has Peyton Manning begged for that.) Sports is simply worth too much money, attracts too much interest, counts as Celebrity Culture for people who don't care about musicians or comedians or actors or politicians anywhere near as much as their local QB.

So rail about how the rules have changed, trolls. That never gets, um, young. And neither do you.

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