You'll have a hard time finding someone who can argue that the National Football League is struggling financially. This billion dollar business entity is a worldwide phenomenon and easily is the most popular sport in the United States, and, aside from perhaps soccer, the world.
So why the long faces, NFL?
The league is having a remarkably hard time filling seats to live games. This pattern isn't specific to any city or team, but rather a problem the NFL and its brass are trying to snuff out before it becomes even more glaring.
A lot of blame, from the corner of the NFL, is on the economy and the subsequent cost of game tickets. A few hundred dollars just for one seat, not including parking, gas, meals and beer, might be a little hard to come by if that money would be better served for rent, mortgage, car payments or utility bills.
The truth is most NFL fans find a way to afford tickets, and the smart ones don't mortgage their homes or financial future for the sake of seeing a playoff game at their home stadium.
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The issue the NFL is trying to tackle head on stems from the stadiums, how fans perceive the atmosphere and, of course, the overall cost involved in the excursion. Aside from the more casual fan or observer, football fans display a sports fervor that stretches well beyond that of a simple fan and probably are immersed in fantasy football or incessantly checking scores or updates on their smart phone or tablets.
The NFL owners and general managers recently convened to broach the subject of adding Wi-Fi to NFL stadiums to satiate that particular need of fans. In addition, the topic of the NFL Red Zone Channel was brought to the forefront as a way for fans to track what's happening around the league when a simple score flashing on a scoreboard simply won't do.
Simply put, the NFL is trying to provide those brave and wealthy enough to travel to live games with an all encompassing experience. But the NFL isn't prepared or, for financial reasons, willing to look a little deeper than topical amenities like highlights and internet.
NFL fans tend to get a little too rowdy at times, most of the time if their team is winning big or losing just as bad. Intoxicated NFL fans are an incredibly deterrent for the casual one who maybe buys a ticket or two each year. That casual crowd is the one the NFL simply can't win over, and never will if those obnoxious and inebriated continue to indirectly harass the fans who are actually trying to enjoy the game at its purest level of competition and sport.
Good luck getting the NFL to stop alcohol sales after halftime at roughly $10-15 per beer.
The other massive road block for the NFL and its think tank is the comfort level of watching a game at home, on the couch, with plenty of "free" food in your fridge that you already purchased.
Thanks to high definition TVs with crystal clear pictures and sounds, going to the game lost a little of its luster and isn't quite the must see live TV that it once was.
The NFL is a formidable opponent for just about every obstacle in its way. But tackling the notion of dwindling attendance may be even too difficult for this pigskin powerhouse.
And a lot of that, like the alcohol served at stadiums for the entire game, is the NFL refusing to side step and get out of its own way.
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