Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Patriots' Fans Boycotting NFL Hurting No One But Themselves

"The only thing worse than the silencing of a martyr, a real martyr - someone with dangerous ideas - is silencing someone who has nothing at all to say." Dave Eggars
In his latest novel, Your Fathers, Where Are They and the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, Boston-born novelist Dave Eggars pens a dialogue-intensive tome about a man who selectively kidnaps seven people whom he feels had something to do with his best friend's shooting death at the hands of the police, chaining them to a post and forcing them to converse philosophically with him.

The plot has a Platonic feel to it - kind of a modern day Parable of the Cave - which the actual text fails to deliver upon. The book is a rancid waste of time, childish in it's inception and overly dull, if there is such a thing - but the one line that resonates, or should resonate, with Patriots' fans is Eggar's little ditty above.

As Eggars points out, there are two specific brands of martyrs - and neither seem worth the time or effort.  The first, the real martyr - the ones with dangerous ideas - a person who is killed or suffers greatly for a cause, is obviously under the influence of some heavy duty dedication to be laying down their lives for what they believe in.

It's a little over the top for the twenty-first century, save the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom and protection - not only do they put their lives on the line, but they sacrifice time with their families to do so.

It is compelling and understandable at the same time, much more so than the second brand of Martyrdom, the one's who have nothing to say, either by default or plain ignorance. This brand is defined as persons who pretend to suffer or exaggerate suffering in order to obtain praise or sympathy, and really have nothing to say that is of any importance to anyone.

Recently, the internet version of Sports Illustrated published a letter from a Patriots' fan who claimed that he was giving up on football. The fan cited his personal hatred for the National Football League and the five entities that bring the NFL to our television sets every Sunday.  And Monday.  And Thursday.  One of those entities, DirecTV is going to lose his business.

Which brand of martyrdom does this cat subscribe to?  Or is it something else entirely?  And what does this say about a purportedly objective and long-standing news source that they would publish such a tome that stands to be an embarrassment to Patriots' Nation?

Whichever it is, he certainly isn't the only one.  Thousands of New England Patriots' fans across social media are decrying the villainous NFL and are threatening to boycott the 2015 NFL Season - not attending football games nor watching them on television, others going as far as to not purchase anything that has the NFL's shield is even remotely connected with it, hats, jerseys - you know, gear.

The proposed boycott is in response to, of course, the punishments handed down by the NFL to the Patriots - penalties that even most fans of other teams will admit are unusually harsh: Quarterback Tom Brady suspended for four games for "More likely than not, being generally aware" of the manipulation of the air pressure in game balls, and the team fined a cool million and will have to forfeit next year's top draft pick.

But what exactly are these fans boycotting?  They may think that refusing to watch games on TV, refusing to go to the stadium to watch the games live, refusing to renew their Sunday Ticket package and refusing to purchase officially licenced NFL gear is going to hurt the league - but in reality, these fans are only hurting themselves and their team.

And there is not so much as a moral victory to be had.

The NFL's revenue sharing program ensures solvency among the 32 franchises by the league in three ways.  First, the TV contracts and other broadcast revenue that currently pay the NFL in excess of $5 billion annually.  Secondly, revenue generated by the sale of officially licensed NFL team gear and corporate sponsorships and, lastly, revenue generated by a corporation known as NFL Ventures.

Officially licensed gear generates a little over $1 billion in annual sales as does NFL Ventures, including such entities as NFLMobile, NFL.com and NFL Productions and NFL Network, which are owned jointly by the 32 NFL franchises, not the NFL, which the owners of the individual franchises turn around and pay to the NFL as "Dues" for belonging to the "Trade Association" that the NFL used to list itself as on their tax forms, as they have given up their tax-exempt status earlier this spring.

Regardless, it is these dues, estimated at $255 million annually ($8 million per team) that pays the salaries of the executives at the NFL headquarters, plus pays rent and operating expenses for the league...

The Collective Bargaining Agreement states that 55% of the league media and 40% of local media is earmarked for direct distribution to the players, and with the salary cap for 2015 set at just over $143 million, that means that of the money that the NFL divides between the teams, approximately two-thirds goes to the players.

Do the math, and each team receives a staggering $218 million from such revenue, meaning that the league generates nearly $7 billion annually, the difference between the TV contract and the total amount made up between officially licenced team gear and corporate sponsorships. That number is expected to increase exponentially in 2016 when the new DirecTV contract kicks in.

The gate receipts for all NFL games, estimated at around $2.5 million per contest, is split between the combatants, with 40% going to the visiting team while the home team keeps 60%.  Other revenue such as luxury boxes, personal seat licencing and concessions are all kept by the home team.

It is important to remember that these are estimates, as 31 of the 32 NFL franchises are individually owned and operated and not subject to public disclosure to stockholders, which is fine for the purposes of evaluating how a person boycotting the NFL stands to impact the league.  But how we come to these estimates is by accessing the information that must be publicly disclosed by the league's one publicly owned franchise, the Green Bay Packers.

The latest numbers, from 2013, state that the Packers generated TV and sponsorship shared revenue of $187 million for that season and paid out $123 million in player's salary, the sum of which is the aforementioned two-thirds of the revenue required of teams to pay their players per the CBA.

So to boycott the league, the fans of New England are only causing more hardship upon their team ownership.

The television contracts that are paid to the league come through advertising revenue, presumably for items that all of us use on a daily basis, like Pepsi products, automobiles and car care products and all manner of consumables.  Same with the local TV revenue.

Officially licensed gear helps make up the players' salaries and benefit funds, while gate receipts, concessions and NFL Ventures revenue help the team meet its own operating expenses (including Trade Association Dues) and is such a minimal amount compared to the revenue sharing that the NFL concedes to each team that it barely makes a dent in the wallet of 32 separate billion-dollar enterprises.

So do yourselves a favor, all of you who are mad as hell at the NFL and are planning to boycott the NFL 2015 season - don't do it.  The best thing you can do is to continue to watch the games, continue to purchase gear and continue your subscriptions to football packages from the various cable networks, because combined, they help keep your team alive and solvent.

But if you still want to hit the NFL where it hurts, stop drinking Pepsi or Coke or whatever soft drink you prefer, stop buying beer, stop buying cars and stop stuffing your face with McDonalds or Burger King - it still won't do you any good, but at least you'll be healthier...


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