NFL Desperately Trying to Stop the Hemorrhaging
When you hear the words “National Football League” (NFL), the first thoughts that may come to your mind are: anthem protests, President Donald Trump bashing the NFL in the media, and TV ratings declining. Well, something new you can add to the list is an alleged $100-million NFL “bribe” of a sorts. Yes, you are reading this right: $100 million.
Before getting into the details of the alleged “bribery,” everything has snowballed from one event leading to the next. It began with some NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in order to protest against the police targeting specific minorities (mainly African-Americans) in the United States.
However, the kneeling during the anthem has turned into a large controversy. President Trump has said that the players were not respecting the flag or military veterans, and that people are very lucky to live in America.
Trump believes that Americans should boycott the league. It seems that many Americans have been listening to the president. The NFL has lost about four million weekly viewers since 2013–2014, which amounts to a decline of 20%. (Source: “NFL Losing Viewers At Alarming Rate But Faces Limits On Its Response,” Forbes, October 23, 2017.)
The NFL executives are aware of their problems and they want to fix the league’s public image. One solution that has been brought up is to give $100 million on behalf of the NFL and its players to social justice programs that are important to the African-American community.
This could be considered a bribe to the players to get them to stop their anthem protests, which then could result in no more harsh words from the president, and the viewership starting to rebound.
What’s Behind this $100-Million NFL “Bribe?”
Any business’ main objective is to grow the top and bottom lines of its financial statements. The NFL is no different. The owners and the league want to grow the TV viewership and advertising dollars, and ensure that all games are sold out. Creating this $100.0-million fund is one method to ensure that the NFL will grows in size and profitability. The league would consider this a small price to pay in order to protect their powerful NFL brand.
Therefore, this seems to be a strategic move to get good publicity for the league. The move puts the league in a good light, since the large sum of money would be going toward something that means a lot for the players, and it would end the player protests before the games.
If, however, certain players do not wish to participate in the cause and they decide to continue to protest, those players could be seen in a negative light by the general public.
$100-Million NFL Fund
The fund will be earmarked for criminal justice reform, education, and law enforcement. The breakdown of the $100 million is as follows:
The league will contribute at least $89.0 million over seven years, the owners will contribute $5.0 million this year (which would increase to $12.0 million per year), and the players are expected to donate $250,000 as a team (which will be matched by the team’s owners, for a total of $500,000 per team). (Source: “Report: NFL to contribute nearly $100M to social justice causes over 7 years,” theScore, November 30, 2017.)
Will Players Go Along with It?
The player who started all this is Colin Kaepernick, when he began kneeling during the anthem before games. Since then, this protest movement has been seen throughout the league, and in other sports around the world. Many celebrities and public figures have supported the movement.
If players do not go along with the NFL’s plan (stopping the protests in exchange for setting up the fund), then it would seem that the league is the “good guy” and the players are the “bad guy.” In the end, I believe that the players will go along with this plan to use the money for improving local communities.
However, I predict that not all of the players will participate in the $100-million program.
I believe that the anthem protests will continue from a select group of players, who feel that the fund is not enough to deal with the larger issues in the United States. Even though the NFL is working with the NFL players, there is no requirement for players to stand for the anthem of the United States. If there was a lot more action taken, such as more community involvement and partnering with police agencies, then maybe more players would be willing to stand for the anthem.
Even though $89.0 million ($12.0 million annually) seems like a large sum of money, the league made $13.0 billion in revenue during the 2015–2016 season. Therefore, on a relative basis, $12.0 million per year is pocket change for the league. It is possible that we would see this number increase over the years if there are continued protests from players. (Source: “NFL took in $13 billion in revenue last season — see how it stacks up against other pro sports leagues,” MarketWatch, July 2, 2016.)
The one positive outcome, no matter which position is taken in these events, is that the ball is rolling and the discussions have begun about issues outside the game of football. And this is what could make America great again.