Insider Column: I LIKE THE NFL…but not this

The opening weekend of the NFL is behind us.While we all anxiously anticipated football season after a spring and summer of dealing with social unrest and a bad reaction to the coronavirus, our favorite fall pastime would be a welcome reprieve from the rona, protests, violence and politics.If only it were so.

I was watching ESPN’s pregame show (fellow Kanawha County, WV native Randy Moss does a great job bringing his take on the game to the show) and it had the usual fare of features and commentary on the athletes, teams, matchups and strategies.And then it happened.The commentary turned to social justice protests by the players with hefty team and league support.I am told by friends who watched other network shows that it was much the same as if it were mandated by the NFL.The NFL works diligently to control its public image.

While the players, and the league for that matter, have every right to their opinions, stances and actions on any number of issues, they have forgotten one thing.We come to sports for a diversion from daily life.When the players, teams and the league bring those things into the diversion there is no escape and the focus is something other than what we are tuning in to see.

Sports fans to varying degrees dig into records, statistics and the intricacies of the games we love.Anything else diminishes the product and the joy of the game.Sports fans know those issues are important and what’s happening in the country is the serious side of life.But sports are not that.Sports are the pause, the catching of our breath for a few hours as we take a break from the daily grind.

We pay those folks tremendously for that break.We come to the NFL and other sports for entertainment, not a lecture.The early ratings are down and are likely to produce a revenue hit for the league and teams that pay so much to have the best of the sport compete for our enjoyment.

Enjoyment…it used to be the NFL Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.Here’s to hoping the league wakes up and it can become that again.

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