I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever written an article about sports of any kind. I consider myself to be something of a modest sports fan. I like high school and college football and professional hockey, and I do watch the Super Bowl every year. But obsessed I’m not. Perhaps that gives me something of a better perspective on this whole Deflategate episode with the New England Patriots. From where I sit, Deflategate is a great big nothing.
Here’s why I think that:
1. The NFL is First and Foremost An Entertainment Medium
I realize this will raise a few hackles with sports fanatics everywhere, and the football faithful in particular, but yes, the NFL is first and foremost an entertainment medium . It’s status as a sports league is no better than secondary.
The NFL doesn’t pack stadiums and win multibillion-dollar network TV contracts purely on the basis of its status as a sports league. No, it’s the leagues entertainment value that makes all the difference, and that goes way beyond the sport of football.
If you doubt that, then how do you come up with reasonable explanation for the NFL cheerleaders??? Or for that matter the whole Deflategate affair. The league needs both to enhance it’s entertainment value.
2. The NFL and the Super Bowl Aren’t Reality – They’re a Distraction From It
Professional sports are certainly fun to watch, even more so to attend the games. But no matter how much you love them, you have to admit that they aren’t reality. In fact, quite the opposite, they’re a distraction from reality (that’s that entertainment thing again).
But it gets even more extreme when you get into sports analysis. This is carried on by the sports media and by TV sports talking heads. But the way I see it, if the NFL and the Super Bowl are not reality, then sports analysis is even farther away from it. A bunch of people sit around and try to spin the game, the teams, and the players and coaches, as if we can’t reach intelligent conclusions about each on our own. (Still more evidence of the dominant entertainment theme.)
A lot of sports buffs are completely bored when it comes to entertainment gossip. But if you think about it, what‘s the fundamental difference between the two? Nothing critical hangs in the balance of either – unless you’re one of the players/stars or paid sports analysts or gossip columnists.
This begs the question, why the heck is Deflategate getting so much press if it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.???
Answer: It keeps us entertained about something where no one really gets hurt. It’s the perfect scandal.
3. Unless the Patriots Are Barred from The Super Bowl Deflategate Means Nothing
To anybody who thinks that Deflategate really means anything at all, then how come the NFL hasn’t barred the New England Patriots from the Super Bowl??? We can conclude that within the NFL’s own standards, that Deflategate is a great big nothing.
That doesn’t mean the sports analysts won’t put a big asterisk next to this game should the Patriots win it. But then sports analysts are really the only people for whom Deflategate has any real substance.
4. Any Publicity is Good Publicity – Stimulating the Sports Media and the Arm Chair Jock Crowd
Any publicity is good publicity is a time-honored Hollywood saying and strategy. It works real well in the NFL too – get the connection? (Still not convinced the NFL is mostly an entertainment enterprise?)
Deflategate won’t put a stain on this Super Bowl – except in the minds of the sports analysts who live for this stuff. Nope – it’s all part of the entertainment package that the NFL really is. Are you getting caught up in it? If you are, then the NFL is doing it’s job – it’s real job.
5. Make No Mistake: The NFL Just Loves This Crap – And So Do the Networks
Are you laboring under the delusion that the NFL is actually worried about Deflategate, or even thinks it’s a problem at all? (If you do, please re-read Reason #3 above.)
Nope, the NFL isn’t worried about this at all, and neither are their partners in the network media. Quite the opposite in fact.
I know that I’m beating this entertainment angle to death, but nothing gets butts in the seats or eyes to the TV like a good scandal. A pure sports league would move quickly to squash a scandal. But an entertainment medium loves it. It’s the fuel that runs the whole system.
Think about it – why does the NCAA prohibit excessive celebrations in the name of sportsmanship, but the NFL doesn’t? Because excessive celebrations are entertainment! (OK, they do have rules, but they aren’t religiously enforced, but I digress.) The more in-your-face the celebrations are, the more the league, the talking heads and the networks like it.
It’s the same reason that they like player scandals, outrageous behavior and all the off-field bad boy stuff that should (but seldom does) get players expelled from the league. Controversy draws attention, and that’s good for business.
Don’t lose sleep over this Deflategate thing, and don’t waste time thinking about it. The NFL isn’t, and neither are the sports media – other than how they can spin it for greater attention and ad revenue. And of course they will, it’s their job, their whole reason for existing. But it isn’t yours or mine.
So let’s just forget about this whole Deflategate fiasco, and watch and enjoy the game on Sunday. Win, lose or draw, the game will go into the history books, and life will begin again – with more serious pursuits – no later than Monday morning.
And Deflategate will matter even less by then .