Tag Archives: NFL

Diversity in the NFL

In the Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places, there is a scene when Randolph Duke asks his brother Mortimer if they should retain Murphy’s character as the managing director:

You mean keep Valentine on, as Managing Director?

Do you really believe I would have a nigger run our family business, Randolph?

Of course not. Neither would I.

It is not a stretch to imagine a similar conversation taking place in the executive offices of NFL franchises among owners. Today on the first day of Black History Month, there is exactly one African American head coach employed by NFL franchises. Houston fired head coach David Culley after one season despite being universally praised for the Texans overachieving with a roster bereft of NFL talent. Brian Flores hired by the Miami Dolphins three years ago, right before management decided to sell off most of their talent in a blatant attempt to tank the season. Flores held the locker room together during that turbulent season and produced two winning seasons after that first season. Eric Bieniemy has been the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has gone to four consecutive AFC championship games and two Super Bowls. Bieniemy has yet to sniff a head coaching job. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feature African American offensive and defensive coordinators with a Super Bowl championship on their resume; both were expected to be hot head-coaching candidates this year. Neither has been hired or considered a finalist in for any of them the remaining jobs.

African American head coaches are also held to a higher standard than most white coaches take Jim Caldwell, who as head coach of the Colts led them to the Super Bowl his first season, went 10-6 his second before an injury to star quarterback Peyton Manning suffered an injury that would force him to miss the following season. The Colts went 2-14, and Caldwell was relieved of his duties. It took four years for Caldwell to be given another opportunity; conversely, the New York Jets hired Adam Gase after two straight losing seasons before the Dolphins could change the locks on his office. Caldwell produced three winning seasons out of four in Detroit and was fired for his efforts. The Lions have since hired two white head coaches who have produced zero winning seasons since Caldwell’s firing. Current Lions head coach Dan Campbell, despite posting a 3-13-1 record, has been praised by the media for his team playing hard and improving the culture in Detroit; think back to what I wrote about David Culley as a perspective on that. The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to the Super Bowl; their head coach Zac Taylor prior to this year was 2-14 and 4-11 but was afforded the opportunity to grow with the team.

Now let’s transpose the NFL with the NBA, a league with only one African American owner. Last hiring cycle, there were eight head coach openings, seven filled by African Americans. Thirteen of the thirty NBA head coaches are currently African Americans. The pipeline to head coaching opportunities in the NBA, assistant coaches, is teeming with African Americans. When head coaching opportunities arise in the NBA, African Americans routinely are interviewed as opposed to what in many cases is the token interview afforded to a single African American candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule. While far from perfect, the NBA has made diversity hires among its head coaches a priority, and its owners are leap years ahead of their NFL counterparts in progressive thinking.

There appears to be no easy answer to the NFL problem. The league is a money-making machine, and its ownership has in their mind no reason to worry about the perception of their hiring practices. The Commissioner’s office has no real say in the matter as the Commissioner is an employee of the owners. Until NFL owners make the collective decision to prioritize diversity in the hiring of head coaches, it will be the same old story for the foreseeable future.

Jim Harbaugh, here we go again hitting the recycle button

Let me go on record with this. I think Jim Harbaugh is a good guy and what he did this year for University staff who were economically impacted by covid was beyond generous. That said, some NFL franchise will be smitten by the memory of him unleashing Colin Kapernick on the NFL and the success those 49ers teams had and overpay him. In doing so, they will overlook that in his time at Michigan, his teams constantly underperformed, their offense was usually unimaginative, and their defense nothing to write home about

Most importantly, they came up short in the big game time and time again, most notably losing to their bitter rival Ohio State every year until finally breaking through this year. However, they did drop a game to in-state rival Michigan State yet again. There are lots of young innovative coaching candidates, many of whom are African-American, who deserve a chance at being a head coach before we hit the recycle button on Jim Harbaugh

The NFL continues to prove it has no shame

Reports today say Miami and the Texans have agreed in principle to a deal for Deshaun Watson, but the Dolphins want clarity on his legal issues before going through with it.  Another report states NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league does not have the necessary information to put Texans QB Deshaun Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list, which allows Watson to be paid but not play. While his legal issues play themselves out. This is coming on the heels of finding out the NFL knew about Jon Gruden’s racist, sexist, homophobic e-mails to another league executive on the Washington football team’s e-mail since July and said nothing even after they were leaked. In addition, the league has refused to make public what else they found in their review of over 600,000 e-mails proving once again the NFL is nothing but lip service when it comes to diversity. They can put all the slogans they want in end zones, run commercials until the cows come home about their commitment to change, but in the end, nothing fundamentally changes within the NFL’s good old boy network, and the NFL should be ashamed of that…but sadly they won’t be. 


“A smile or a tear has no nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man. – Frederick Douglass.”

On September 10th, the Kansas City Chiefs prepared to defend their NFL title against the Houston Texans. Before the game, the players, in a sign of unity, decided on their own to stand together and lock arms in support of Black Lives Matter. It was a moving tribute, and one that you would expect would be universally applauded by a so-called enlightened society. Yet as the cameras rolled, a nation heard boos emanating from the crowd.

Sad yes, unexpected no. There remains a segment of America that does not or wants to relate to the tears shed when a person of color’s life is needlessly taken, or the sorrow when yet another incomprehensible acquittal is met with indifference. To that segment of America, the tears and suffering are not theirs and, as such, have little importance.

When the tears and sorrow turn to anger do they see it but make no mistake, they do not know the reason for the anger; they see only how it impacts them—their comfort level interrupted by those they label as troublemakers’ anarchist. 

“The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” – Frederick Douglass.

Those who booed the moment of unity are a relic of America’s past. A time when segregation was the rule of the day. When the desire to learn about other races, cultures, and religions was deemed unnecessary when one group’s pain was looked at as their pain and not America’s pain, in 2020, the Coalition of the Righteous, a group of all races and nationalities coming together to rebuke this thinking is starting to change this mindset. However, this mindset still simmers beneath the American surface and is stoked by President Trump. His plan is one of fear, hate, and racism; it is designed to keep Americans divided. To ensure that they fear and hate each other to such a degree that they will never look to understand each other. To never appreciate the pain and sorrow one group feels when faced with racial and social injustice.

“the prejudices people feel about each other disappear when they get to know each other.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek.

On September 10th, they booed a show of unity, they are the past, and one day the future of America will boo them for their booing. 

The NFL’s Anthem problem. Whose Wrong or is Everyone Right.

This week the Miami Dolphins made public that any player who participate in a protest during the national anthem would be subject to a four game suspension, although they also said they don’t plan on enforcing it. As an African American I have conflicted emotions regarding this subject. No one can deny that racial injustice and social inequity is a very real thing. Colin Kapernick began this protest movement to bring light to these issues through his celebrity and it cost him his career.  As other joined in the protest President Trump saw that this was the perfect opportunity to appeal to his base by hijacking the issue and essentially changing the narrative to one of a protest against the national anthem and called those who protest unpatriotic. Owners worried that fans would turn away from their game thus hurting their bottom line, and in the NFL nothing is more important than the bottom line, felt the need to draw a line in the sand.  Through it all the original intent of Kapernick message started to get lost. It began to seem as players were protesting simply because they were told they couldn’t and fans had brought into the President narrative that the protest were unpatriotic. After much thought I have concluded that since the NFL is a business and the players are in essence employees of that business, highly paid and famous employees but employees nevertheless less, they should play by the same rules as everyone else. To that end when most of us in society are told we are prohibited from doing or saying something while on duty that the company feels would hurt their bottom line or be perceived as a negative, whether in reality it is or isn’t, we do it.  Failure to follow the rules often leads to termination of one’s employment. As NFL players are “on duty” representing their teams during the national anthem it is not outrageous to say they have an obligation to follow the rules set by the team’s owners.

This however does not mute the player’s voices, they need look no further than their NBA brothers as an example. In a league overwhelmingly African American NBA players stand as required for the national anthem. Are we to believe NBA players are oblivious to the injustices of society around them or that they simply don’t care about issues such as social inequality because they stand instead of protesting. The answer is of course no. But NBA players use their celebrity during their “own” time to draw attention to these issues. Who can forget when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade teamed up to deliver a powerful speech during the 2016 ESPY  in which they called for fellow athletes to use their fame to heal a country divided by racism, injustice and gun violence.  They referenced fatal police shooting of African American young men they called on fellow athletes call to educate themselves and to speak up and use their influence.  They urged fellow athletes to go back to their communities, invest their time, their resources to help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. Their message could not be hijack the narrative not changed. No one could question if they were giving the speech because they were told not to and most importantly they showed the power of their voices away from their jobs on the hardwood.

NFL players can follow suit. Hold workshops in the community mentoring young people of color while at the same time calling attention to the injustices those same young people face on a daily basis. Work as a group with local police to meet with and come to a better understanding of the community they are policing. Use public events such as the ESPY awards to speak out and condemn the issues that the protest during the national anthem were intended to bring light to.

This issue is bigger than if players do or don’t have the right to protest during the national anthem. It is bigger than NFL players versus NFL owners and the President. Rather than get bogged down in that fight, rather than provide even the smallest of opportunity for others to change the narrative NFL players should use the multiple avenues available to them on their “own” time to help build and strengthen their communities and to call attention to the issues of social injustice and racial inequality.

The NFL gets the anthem thing wrong again

Today the NFL issued a statement stating that NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer.
This policy sadly misses the point. Hijacked by the President, the original intent of the protest was never about the anthem. In this case, the anthem is simply a means to an end used as the “prop” to bring to light the injustices perpetrated on people of color daily. One could say without the anthem; there could have been a stage for the protest.
This action serves one purpose, silencing the voice of protest by shoving it in a locker room.
NFL players should respond in kind with a statement: We see opting to stay in the locker room during the anthem as a real sign of disrespect. Kneeling during the anthem is our peaceful way of shedding light on the treatment of people of color by a segment of the population while at the same time maintaining respect for the flag and those servicemen and women who have fought under it to continue to preserve our way of life. We stand with them and all Americans, or as James Baldwin so eloquently stated: I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

You do not get to

It’s clear you live in a bubble when you look at an athlete, especially one of color, kneeling for the national anthem, and you see a protest against the flag. Because it’s evident to anyone who has a sense of history that it’s not a protest against the flag; it’s a protest against the way the country the flag represents treats people of color, and if you believe that people of color are treated with the same set of rules as white people you refuse to acknowledge the reality of this country’s history.
You do not get to invoke the bravery of this country’s service people when you found a way to avoid service when you were called to “represent the flag.”
You do not get to invoke respect for our service people when you decide that service people willing to serve this country who are transgender are not worthy of wearing the uniform simply because they are transgender.
You do not get to forget the service people of this country who fought for freedom under this flag in a world war who, upon their return home, were told to get to the back of the train so white German POW could ride in the front. I’m sure those heroic service people of color still respected the flag they fought for but questioned the country’s motives that the flag represented.
You do not get to call out anyone, regardless of their current income, who are willing to stand up against abuse they, people of their family, or people of their community have been subject to when you can not truly understand their feelings on the subject because you nor anyone in your family have ever been or never will be subject to the same type of treatment.
You do not get to hide behind your Twitter denials, your claims that fake news is looking to destroy you when It has become apparent who you are and who you are speaking to when you speak with such passion about this topic, especially when looked at in contrast to your muted tone when talking about the white supremacist who marched through Charlottesville chanting racist slogans and carrying tiki torches in an attempt to mimic iconic images of fear from years past. It is clear you are not speaking of just athletes but rather you saying to your base, look at these self-important niggers how dare they. You are with me, right. Remember when we used just to put them in their place and not have to deal with this? I do, and yes, like you, I long for those days, Days when America was great.
Fortunately, you do not get to stain our country forever. You have faked your way to the top. You have awakened the dwindling number of Americans who still think as you do. But you also continue to unite the majority of us who reject the past sins of this country. You continue to show the world that despite America’s temporary lapse in judgment, which gave you your platform, you currently have the majority of us reject your beliefs. Your time is short; you are not a king, you are not a dictator, you will soon be a footnote in our history, a cautionary tale for our future.
We shall overcome

Fans? Who cares about fans? Fans are suckers

Sports is a business I know that but today the NFL in voting to approve the Raiders move to Las Vegas showed us once again that not only is sports a business but it’s owners think of the fans as nothing more than suckers.

Let’s be clear here the Raiders, one of the league’s most storied franchises, have one of the most loyal rabid fan bases in the NFL. There is no questioning that. Even after the Raiders left them for 12 years in the 80s and 90s they welcomed them home as if they had never left. They dress up for games and root like hell for a team that gave them a decade of putrid football. But that didn’t matter because win lose or draw they were their Oakland Raiders. Simply put if you never been to a Raiders home game you have missed out on one of the best spectacles in all of sport. But because the city of Oakland wouldn’t bow to the pressure of 32 billionaire owners and provide them with a corporate welfare check to finance a stadium, at a time when the City has far more pressing economic concerns,  the Raiders told one of the NFL’s best fan bases to kiss its ass and you know why? Because they can. They can because the NFL knows the fan is a sucker.

Between 1982 and 96 iconic NFL franchises moved all over the map. the Raiders moved twice, the Colts moved, The Browns moved, the Rams moved, the Oilers moved. The league awarded Cleveland and Houston new franchises to help ease the pain and put the expansion buy-in fee into their pockets. Through it all the cash kept on pouring in. Baseball once cancelled a World Series in 1994 and while it isn’t what was it used to be nationally it is doing just fine regionally as owners are flush with more money than ever before. The NBA markets its stars more than any other league. Come out and see Lebron James and the Cavs they yell and then teams casually and with no regard to its paying fan will rests whole lineups, on the road, the only time they’ll play in that city all year. Even hockey who decided to cancel an entire SEASON once and makes no attempt to grow their game to new fans like baseball sees its owners sitting on more money than ever before. How is this possible? Because the league knows the fans are suckers. No matter how bad they treat us, no matter how many teams up and leave, no matter how high the prices go or bad the product gets we’ll still scream and cheer for our team. We’ll still open up our wallets and feed the beast.

Today 32 NFL owners had a great day as they pondered the revenue from their shiny new toy in Vegas and likely expansion fee revenue for the new team in Oakland, you know that’s going to happen.  But it was a sad day for the NFL fan especially Oakland and as the billionaire owners smile for the cameras and count the cash they whisper to each –  Fans? Who cares what the fans think? Fans are suckers

Morning after Super Bowl take aways

Morning after Super Bowl take aways

It wasn’t Whitney Houston at Super Bowl 25 but Lady Gaga you crushed the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50. Bravo!

Sloppy, that was one incredibly sloppy game.

When will we learn that when a team brings a defense like Denver did to the big game no matter what offense they bring they are probably going to win the game.

In a year of horrible officiating the refs blew yet another one as they ruled it wrong on the field then blew the replay by not overturning Cotchery’s catch in the 1st quarter. It kept the Panthers deep in their own territory and two plays later Miller strips sacks Newton and the Broncos are in the end zone. 10-0 and the Panthers are chasing that 7 points all game.

Nice of the NFL to give us two halftime shows first the bland with Coldplay then the funky with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars

Cam Newton you had great season but you know you have to dive on that fumble in the 4th quarter even if you don’t get it you have to try to get it.

Peyton Manning the greatest QB of his generation, yeah I said it Patriots fans, goes 13 for 23 for 141 yards no touchdowns and a pick yet now everyone says his legacy is restored, now he’s in that discussion of the greatest ever. Really? Now he’s in the discussion? This performance after the career he had cemented his place in history? That just shows how foolish that argument is in the first place. Football is a team game.

Dan Marino I don’t care what Alec Baldwin says you’re still a better dancer than JJ Watt.

Cam Newton you had great season part 2 but you can’t dab and take sideline pictures and smile while going 15-1 and then sulk and walk out of the press conference when you lose. I know it hurts and you wear your emotions on your sleeve but as the face of the franchise you have to stand tall in victory and defeat.

Just wondering had Cam won and then repeatedly told America that he was going to drink a lot of beer like Peyton did what America’s reaction would have been?

Eli I know you just lost your Thanksgiving dinner bragging rights now that big bro has two rings like you but when the camera is on the family’s box and the whole family is celebrating you have to at least pretend to happy for Peyton.

Baseball it’s not the Walking Dead just yet

Sunday Night Football and The Walking Dead may have fought it out for ratings supremacy last week, as it seemed most of America all but forget that there was indeed a baseball playoff game on, but not to worry MLB because while you may not have been in this battle you’re a long way from being a Dead Sport Walking.

Last Sunday I was in a Bay Area sports bar with my two buddies Lou and Larry fresh off watching The Silver and Black Oakland Raiders the favorite team of Lou, one my oldest and best friends, drop a heartbreaker to the San Diego Chargers.  As we sat drinking our beer watching the Giants Eagles game I posed a simple question, to which I already knew what the response would be. Who do you think will win the rating battle tonight? The season premiere of the Walking Dead, The Giants Eagles game or the Cardinals Giants playoff game. Larry who is about as passionate a sports fan as anyone I know, hell he even watches soccer and as we all know nobody cares about soccer in America, but that’s a discussion for another day responded that the football game would win easy. The Walking Dead would come in second and the playoff game would be somewhere far off in the distance because as he is prone to saying baseball is a sport I once loved and now it is dying a slow death. Now to be fair he was right the baseball game which aired on Fox Sports 1 drew 4.4 million viewers far behind the roughly 17 million viewers each who tuned into watch the Walking Dead on AMC and the Giants Eagles on NBC. So I guess Larry was right baseball is a dying sport after all the television ratings proved him right, except for one little thing. Larry, as he used to me telling him, is dead wrong and baseball is not only not dying, baseball is thriving albeit in a different way than he and I were used to growing up.

Don’t get me wrong baseball is not perfect it does have a plethora of things wrong with it as Larry has pointed out to me on several… no several million occasions. There is a push button mentality with managers today that leads to an overabundance of pitching changes which in turn lengthens the game from a manageable 2 hours and 35 minutes 30 years ago to an unwieldy 3 hours and 2 minutes this past season, the longest on record. The pace of the game is not appealing to today’s youth. Take for example Derek Jeter. Everybody including Red Sox fans loved and respected the Captain and rightfully so for the way he played the game, but in his career there wasn’t a pitch taken or ball fouled off that Jeter didn’t feel the need to step out of the batter box to adjust himself. Not one! Pitchers routinely stare in at the catcher and then seemingly go into some sort of mental trance to help them forget they just walked the last two batters and have gone 3-0 on the guy at the plate. Likely because the umpire’s strike zone today is vastly different from the one the guy yesterday had. World Series games are all prime time starts, taking the sport’s most important event away from future generations who will be sleep by the third inning. Plus first pitch in those games doesn’t occur until we’ve had the obligatory 30 minute pre-game show designed to squeeze in the maximum number of commercials, which drives Lou over the edge but again that’s a topic for another day. All that aside and despite baseball’s multiple attempts to commit suicide, baseball is alive and well.

We will never see the television ratings that baseball once enjoyed. Much to the chagrin of Larry and all those who think like him, this fall half the families in America will not gather around their television sets with hot cocoa on a crisp fall night to watch the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas Royals compete for the title. There are numerous reasons for this and we will explore them later on but what is important is that baseball has figured out how to survive just fine despite them. So why has baseball lost its grip on huge ratings nationally? Well the room that baseball and the rest of the entertainment field reside in today is more crowded than ever. On demand programming enables people to watch their favorite shows at any time and any day, including when the baseball game is on and streaming options such as Netflix and internet options such as Hula and YouTube provide alternative sources of entertainment. More and more cable networks are catering to niche audiences and producing high quality original series with content that could only have been dreamt about on network television. Baseball simply doesn’t have the room to itself. Think about it just 5 years ago would you have even fathomed that a show on basic cable about a post apolycatic world over run with zombies would even be in the conversation with a Sunday night football game on network television. Additionally, this trend is not exclusive to baseball since the mid- 90s ratings for both the World Series and NBA finals have declined steadily. The NHL has seen a slight uptick since NBC started broadcasting the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, but really it had nowhere to go but up.


So why is football a national television juggernaut? Well it does have a few built-in advantages the others don’t. Let’s look at a couple of them.

First, football unlike other sports is event programming. Its 16 game regular season schedule lends itself to being must see television. Every game takes on an importance that simply doesn’t exist in the other big four regular seasons. A week six game between two 3-3 baseball teams is going to have much more at stake and be a much easier sell than an early June game between two 30-30 baseball teams. Likewise the NFL playoffs, with its one and done format, generates excitement and produce the type of immediate result, without the long term commitment that a seven game series requires, that today’s viewer craves.

Second is the elephant in the room that the NFL doesn’t want to acknowledge and that’s betting. Betting on football dwarfs betting on any other of the other major sports in America. In 2011 according to the Nevada Gaming Commission, $3.2 billion was wagered in sports bets in the state’s casinos. Of that amount, $1.34 billion or 41 percent was handled just for football. Outside of Nevada the numbers are much bigger. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission estimates that $380 billion is wagered a year on football through offshore accounts and illegal betting. According to Greg Finn, managing director at WagerMinds, a sports betting and handicapping website

“The NFL knows a meaningful part of their fan base is interested because they can bet on the games. And if they can’t they would be far less interested in getting tickets, going to games and buying merchandise,”

Hand in hand with betting is the explosion of fantasy football, yet another thing that my dear friend Larry finds evil. According to research from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), 33 million Americans participate in Fantasy Football and the industry adds about 2 million new players every year. And while fantasy football is a fun social endeavor for most it also is a big money endeavor as well. The average entry fee to a league is only $70, which divides into about $4 per NFL game, but the FSTA found that $1.18 billion changes hands between players through pools each year. And this equates to television viewership as pointed out by Paul Charchian, president of the FSTA,

“Fantasy sports players will watch twice as much of their sport as other self-identified sports fans. A fan of the Jets will just watch a Jets game but a fantasy player will watch the Jets game and then switch over to other games. And he will watch the Thursday night game, which no one seems to watch.”

You can read more about the NFL’s Shadow Economy of Gambling and Fantasy Football is a Multibillion Dollar Business at the Daily Beast by following the link below.


Baseball despite not having either of these advantages which allows football to maintain a vice grip as the “national past time” has managed to remain strong both at the box office and on the regional level. The nine seasons between 2004 and 2012 produced the nine best-attended seasons in the history of Major League Baseball, including four successive record-breaking seasons from 2004-2007. While both 2013 and 2014 were down 1.06% and 0.4% respectively from the prior year it is somewhat unreasonable to expect any sport to continually break its own attendance records. Additionally down is relative as 2013 and 2014 represented the 6th and 7th highest attendance figures in Major league history. Some of the highlights from 2014 include:

  • Twelve Clubs surpassed the 2.5-million mark, including five that topped the three-million mark.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates established a single-season attendance record of 2,442,564 in 2014, breaking the previous mark of 2,436,139 set during the first season at PNC Park in 2001. The Pirates also posted 23 sellouts during the season, tying the club record set in 2013.
  • The San Francisco Giants, who sold out every game this season, ended the 2014 season with 327 consecutive sell-outs, dating back to October 1, 2010, for the longest active streak in the Majors.
  • The Detroit Tigers, who recorded 27 sellouts during the 2014 season, posted the fifth largest total attendance (2,917,209) in the 114-year history of the franchise.
  • The Kansas City Royals posted their highest attendance (1,956,482) since 1991.
  • The Seattle Mariners drew 2,063,622, eclipsing the two-million mark for the first time since 2010. The club’s attendance represented a Major League-best 17 percent increase over 2013.
  • The Oakland Athletics had an attendance of 2,003,628 in 2014, surpassing the two-million mark for the first time since 2005 (2,109,118).
  • The Houston Astros drew 1,751,829 fans in 2014, representing an attendance increase for the second consecutive season.

That’s positive news from coast to coast, in cities with booming economies and those with struggling economies, cities with playoff teams and cities with teams under .500. Some of this success in attracting fans out to the ball park can be attributed to baseball being open to reinventing itself. No better example of that is the addition of the wildcard system. Like it or hate it no one can deny its success in ensuring that teams which otherwise would have had no hope of playing meaningful games in September are kept alive each year deeper into the season and as a result their fan bases remain energized. Now I know there are those from the old school of thinking like my buddy Larry who hates the concept of the wildcard saying it destroys the sanctity of the 162 game schedule and removes any chance for a real pennant races not the fake chase for the final wildcard spot but you know, THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT – THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT, kind. But I dare you to tell a long-suffering fan of the Kansas City Royals currently basking in the euphoria of their team’s current playoff run and first World Series appearance since 1985 that the wildcard cheapens baseball. Than just walk away with your head bowed as they laugh their asses off at you.

Speaking of the Royals I can’t wait for game one of the World Series those charming, gritty, players. The Cinderella story, it’s must see television…Wait no, let’s be real I will not be watching it after all it may conflict with a football game or a Walking Dead episode or my latest attempt to get past whatever Candy Crush level I’m currently at. And I’m sure millions of other Americans feel the same way. After all who cares about the Royals or the Giants outside of KC and San Francisco? But you know what, that’s OK because once again baseball will be just fine. Because unlike the built-in advantages we discussed earlier that makes football more appealing to a nationwide audience baseball is just crushing it on a regional level and I do mean crushing it.

In a piece for Forbes.com last August, Maury Brown notes that Major League Baseball is absolutely thriving in local ratings. http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/08/05/mlb-telecasts-on-regional-sports-networks-dominate-prime-time-television/

Check this out:

According to the information from Nielsen, of the 29 U.S.-based clubs in the league, 12 of them are the #1-rated programming in prime time since the start of the season in their home markets, beating both broadcast and cable competition. These teams include the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Another 7 teams rank in the top three in local prime time TV ratings on their respective RSNs, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and [Colorado] Rockies.

Brown further reports that the Cubs, White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Marlins, Mets, A’s and Nationals rank in the top nine in local primetime programming.

As CBS Sportsline commented

That leaves only the Dodgers and Astros who aren’t doing well — and with the Blue Jays being in Canada, Nielson doesn’t have the information — which is hardly surprising with the respective fights between the clubs and local TV carriers. So, basically, the only two teams in America not doing well in ratings aren’t doing well because people don’t have the option to watch.

And when you add up those numbers baseball, the dying sport is not that far behind the NFL aka “King of The World” in total revenue. According to Forbes Magazine in October of this year http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2014/10/08/baseball-is-dying-dont-be-stupid/

Last season MLB saw gross revenues of over $8 billion, and the expectation is it will reach $10 billion within a year or two. The reason for this goes back to attendance, and television. At the local level, teams are individually seeing lucrative broadcast deals, while the league sees national broadcast revenue from ESPN, TBS, and FOX at $1.5 billion annually. On top of that, MLB’s digital media company MLB Advanced Media expects to see revenues hit $1 billion annually in the very near future (see The Biggest Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of). That means MLB could soon catch the National Football, who saw approx. $10 billion in gross revenues last season.

Ah but as my friend Larry pointed out to me in a recent text message response to an article I forwarded him about the health of baseball – what about the youth? To quote he wondered if the myopic sportswriter thinks there’s any reason for concern that young people watch football and basketball and even soccer (yes he really said soccer) but not baseball anymore. I could almost hear him saying in his best sportscaster’s James Brown voice – The young Carl. What about the young? Well I hate to tell Larry the young just aren’t as interested in football or sports in general as much as he and I are. Today’s youth have way too many other things going on to keep them entertained.   Brian Steinberg, Senior TV Editor for Variety wrote in September:


Younger viewers are walking away from broadcasts of its games.

The average audience between 18 and 49 for NFL broadcasts across CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network has declined by about 10.6% over the last four seasons, according to Nielsen data prepared by Horizon Media, to about 7.7 million in 2013 from about 8.62 million in 2010. Meantime, male viewers between 18 and 24 watching the sport have also fallen off, tumbling about 5.3% in the same time period, to approximately 847,000 in 2013 from 894,000 in 2010.

Even as its overall viewership rises, however, the NFL audience has gotten older. Consider that in 2006, the median age for an NFL viewer was 45.8. By 2012, the median had risen to 47.1; in 2013, it was 48.4.

So there you have it strong attendance, regional television dominance, increasing revenue all in all baseball is in pretty good shape all around. Last Sunday may have belonged to the Walking Dead but baseball is far from being The Dead Sport Walking. I expect a harshly worded e-mail from Larry once he reads this.