Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why I Haven't Written About The NFL's LA Return (Yet)



In my social media, I've had people ask me what I thought about the NFL going to LA. They've wondered, given how I've seen games in St. Louis and Oakland, lived in the Raiders' backyard for seven years, and have a brother who has been in greater San Diego for over half of his life, why I haven't had something to say about this.

And the answer is... because it's didn't seem like anything I'd have to add was anything more than brutally obvious.

There is no good reason why the NFL should have left LA in the first place. There is no good reason why the NFL needs to go back now.

(Note that I said good reason there. In terms of bad reasons, which is to say Straight Short Term Cash, there's plenty of reasons. But let's move on.)

The percentage of revenue brought to the NFL by tickets and stadium sales, while substantial, is chicken feed. The only money that really matters is broadcast cash, because that dwarfs everything else. Which will not change one whit by the NFL returning to LA, unless you count the nebulous benefit of a more local place to wine and dine LA power players.

Which hasn't mattered in the past two decades, and doesn't really matter now. The NFL is the last bankable mass market media play. They could play all of their games in a domed sound stage in Alberta to no spectators, and still pull in ratings that crush everything else on television in the U.S.

Am I overstating the case? Not really. People who cheer as if their lives depend on it have either been priced out of the yard, set up to be ratted out by social media shamers, or driven to insanity by decades of gougery. To go to a game now is to show a marked lapse in judgment, not to mention a preference for being at a game to actually watching it. My home screen, thanks to technology and coverage (note: not analysis), is better in every possible way than being in the building. Any building, any where. (And that includes booths, because even the cushiest booth requires the security patdown to get in, being surrounded by people that should make you ashamed to be a mammal, and the hours of parking hassles and traffic woes.)

The NFL supports games in a Wisconsin suburb (Green Bay). It supports games in Western New York, in an area with no significant corporate support (Buffalo). It supports games in a single market in nowhere Floria (Jacksonville), just because. Games are played in London for nearly half a season now, so the NFL can time shift more games to an unclaimed Sunday morning time zone, in its eternal quest to play every game in its own time slot. It supports two teams in burbland New Jersey, rather than the actual New York City area, just because. It has stadiums in burbland Boston and burbland DC, not the actual towns, just because. It's played games on a college campus in nowhere Minnesota for the past two years. The overall health of the league has not been affected at all. San Francisco fan now travels, or more accurately does not travel, 50+ miles away from the city to a new disaster, rather than stay in the old disaster.

Where the stadiums are does not matter. It hasn't mattered for a really long time. What the stadium is like has *never* mattered, because even the most rabid fan just isn't there often or long enough.

So, Ram and Charger and eventually Raider Fan who feels betrayed and used? You are, actually, now one of the lucky ones. You don't have to put up with these people being near you any more. If you also ducked out on a bill for a billionaire's playroom, so much the better. You can still root for the laundry, or not, and have as much reason as the day before.

The owners don't care what city they are nominally attached to. The players don't, either. So why do you?

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