I, along with millions of fans across the country, am lamenting the fact that we may not have a professional football season this year. Minutes ago, a panel of federal judges confirmed the owner’s right to sustain the lockout. In the meantime, both sides have agreed to continue negotiations. I do take comfort in knowing that I will be able to cheer on my beloved Boise State Broncos, but I will miss watching the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoons!
Things have come a long way since the first live NFL broadcast by NBC in 1939. This season, the networks will shell out a combined $20.4 billion for the rights to bring the gridiron into our living rooms. You can only imagine how much they will be selling 30-second commercial slots for! With this much cash being flung about, there is little doubt that professional football team owners are looking for new Caribbean tax shelters.
I fully understand that the game would have little appeal were it not for the talents of the players on the field. I appreciate the fact that these athletes want their fair share of the revenue pie, preferably à la mode. Still, a guaranteed $15 million per year for the League’s highest paid player is a little excessive to my way of thinking. Over the course of four preseason and sixteen regular season games, that works out to $12,500 per minute. That franchise player you are watching on your wide-screen HDTV just got paid $1,000 to take a quick sip of Gatorade on the sidelines!
Both sides of any issue are always important to me. That said, I have placed a five carat diamond earring in my left earlobe, hopped into a Maserati, and am trying to see things from a player’s point of view. Yes, there is always the threat that my career may be ended suddenly by a freak injury. Yes, I am the reason the owners are making so much money. Yes, thanks to the marvels of technology my every move and all miscues are forever documented to millions of viewers around the world. I am simply another poor victim!
As long as my inner “football player child” has brought up the topic; I am intrigued by the level of technology that is displayed during NFL television broadcasts. The virtual chalkboard is amazing, although I would find myself drawing digital moustaches and goatees on the players. I love the electronic first down line displayed during play, especially when it crosses over a fallen player’s backside. But perhaps the greatest innovation for me is the super slow motion replay!
A bone crushing, possibly career-ending blow? You can watch it over and over again, frame by frame, until you are nauseous enough to go to the ER yourself! The dropped “piece of cake” game winning end zone catch? The humiliation of that poor player can be viewed in microsecond increments! The ball comes into his hands, we zoom into his fingers, they grasp the ball, one extra bead of sweat on the right index finger smears across the pigskin, the ball’s trajectory is altered by a hundredth of a degree, the ball squirts away, and the player falls to the grass. Zoom out and we can witness the play once again, this time tightly zooming on his anguished face; the look of disbelief in his eyes, the grimace across his mouth, the swear words slowly formed by his lips! No wonder he is earning an average of $50,000 for every catch attempted.
What if our lives came with “super slo-mo?” Our every mistake and each of our victories would be captured for the entire world to see. What would the color analysts be saying about your performance on the field? Would they be replaying how you unfairly clipped another player? Would they show you cussing at the referee, since he obviously singled you out for a penalty when everybody else was doing it too? Would you go out of your way to be a “model player” knowing that everyone from you mother to your boss was watching your every move?
Unfortunately, life does not come with a group of referees ready to throw a yellow hankie in your direction should you break the rules. There are no broadcasters reciting all of your statistics for the world to hear. Chances are good that you will not end up on somebody’s fantasy league team. Most importantly, your daily acts will not be played repeatedly in excruciatingly slow motion for the entire world to judge and comment.
Instead, each of us is on the honor system; much like those days when we played football on the elementary school playground. It is up to us to declare when we have committed a wrong or played unfairly. The only recognition we will get is that wonderful feeling of having done the right thing. Besides, you never know when you might end up getting videotaped, later finding yourself on life’s highlight reel!
As for me? I will be the guy sitting up in the cheap seats, stuffing a hotdog into his mouth, and cheering for you to win! Look, there I am on the Jumbotron now!