ESPN on mark during pre-game
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 9, 2013, 08:09
While many Americans fired up their grills, invited friends over and piled on the couch to celebrate week one of the National Football League season, ESPNís pre-game show featured a segment that needs to be highlighted.
Football has overcome baseball as this countryís favorite sport. While baseball will always be considered Americaís past-time, merchandize sales and revenue explain where allegiances lie ó right on the 50-yard line of various football fields across the country.
The revenue for the 2012 fiscal year equaled $9.5 billion for the NFL, a full $2 billion more than its nearest competitor in Major League Baseball, making it all the more important to control the gameís marketability.
Which brings us back to the segment on ESPN chronicling background checks NFL organizations perform on college athletes and free agents to determine their character and if they would be a good fit on their teams.
This may seem to be a response to Aaron Hernandez and his role in a murder investigation this summer and his possible involvement in a double-murder one year prior, but it isnít. This has been in play for as long as the NFL has been in business, but only recently has gained attention for the negative publicity some of its players have received.
ďThey not only talked to my college coaches, but my high school and pee-wee coaches as well,Ē analyst and former No. 1 pick Keyshawn Johnson said during the segment. ďIt wasnít as much about me, but the people I surrounded myself with.Ē
And thatís the biggest concern for commissioner Roger Goodell who has made it his mission to clean up the league during his tenure.
Because even while the revenue streams are off the charts with all types of endorsements and television deals, the league has drawn fire from critics for fostering criminals when in reality, most players are advocates in their community.
But perception is king when it comes to players like Adam Jones, Tank Johnson, Mike Goodson and Hernandez.
And this is where Goodell should be applauded for his efforts ó not villified like he has from fans around the country.
While Goodell has attempted to make the game safer by cracking down on illegal hits, enforcing more concussion standard testing and suspended athletes for run-ins with the law, fans and players have not taken to his stance.
In a Sports Illustrated poll taken on Jan. 28, only 39 percent of players gave him their vote of confidence while most disapproved of the way heís done his job. This should not be the case.
Sports, at its heart, is entertainment.
Without the fans cheering for these teams, attending games, buying jerseys and watching every NFL-related show on television, they would not be paid the type of money they currently are.
If the perception of the league housing criminals doesnít change than the league would not be the business it currently is. Goodell is not only keeping the business rolling, but he is helping market some of the NFLís good guys, role models for the millions of kids who aim to play on the big stage one day.
While players donít have to be as extreme as Tim Tebow, but itís gotten to the point players like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are the norm and not the exception.
And thatís a good sign for a league that continues to become more marketable and more profitable under the guidance of Goodell, making for a better future.