I have been a sports fan for my entire life, and I have spent countless hours watching football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, golf, Formula 1 racing, etc. Heck, I even found yself watching the World Cup of Dodgeball the other day on ESPN!
However, my passion for watching professional sports has been on the decline in recent times for several reasons.
I am not going to utilize my column to express my personal opinions in regards to the subject of athletes who are being paid millions of dollars to play and are making statements as to their political/personal beliefs, while they are what I will refer to as “on the clock.” If they want to voice an opinion or make a statement in regards their personal opinions, then they can buy a 30-second commercial during half time. That is a subject that I prefer to discuss with my buddies over a couple of beers.
With that said, I am going to comment on why my interest in watching professional sporting events has been on the decline. My main issue is due to what I will refer to as “over officiating,” and I am, for the most part, talking about the NFL.
While I understand and appreciate the issues involved with injuries associated with the sport of football, that fact remains, it is a contact sport and the fundamental strategy of the game is to hit and tackle your opponents to prevent them from scoring points!
In all sports, players today are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before; a fact that has changed the dynamics of how sports are played. Even though technology has progressed with the improvement of equipment to help prevent injury, I feel that all of the new rules which are being implemented in the game to protect the players are actually impeding the players from doing the job which they are getting paid to do!
The over officiating, which has evolved from all of the new rules being implemented by the governing bodies of the NFL, is creating a growing trend of lack of interest from the fans who are watching the game.
I did a Google search, which revealed that an average professional football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, and that the amount of time the ball is actually in play averages a mere 11 minutes! In addition to that, there is an average of 12 to 13 penalties called and the average review will take a total of 3 minutes and 30 seconds; upon which point in time, there is a better than average chance, that I have usually picked up the remote control and surfed my way to another channel.
Due to all of the above mentioned facts and statistics, I have rediscovered and re-vitalized my interest in high school and college football! Both of my daughters attended Lely High School and there was/is nothing better than spending a Friday evening in the grandstands with all the other parents and kids watching a game the old fashioned way. There is also nothing better than spending a Saturday afternoon at a college football game. Not to mention the fact that you can attend both of these events for a fraction of the cost of going to a professional game.
As for viewing on TV, I now find myself watching college games, many of which are being played by teams from schools that I really have no interest in whatsoever, or in some cases, have never even heard of before!
As a result of my viewing change of venue, I have come to the realization that the overall style of play in college football is more entertaining to watch than what is currently being offered by the NFL. I also find there to be fewer penalties being called and fewer commercials being shown than in professional sports. Not to mention, there are dozens of games to choose from and you don’t have pay extra for a special cable package deal in order to watch them!
Along with NFL football, Major League Baseball is also suffering, in both attendance and in viewership. Not so much due to any over officiating related to injury prevention, but from the fact that just like football, there is a lot of down time in between when the ball is actually in play, so I now find myself mainly just watching highlights. However, I have to admit, that I recently thoroughly enjoyed watching the Little League World Series. The commentators provided more enlightening and entertaining coverage of these kids than what I hear watching a MLB game. Best of all, these young athletes are not being paid millions of dollars to play, they are out there because of their love and devotion to the game and their team!
I feel that professional athletes, as well as the powers that be that control professional sports, could/should take a lesson from these kids in regards to dedication and respect to your team, your coach, your opponents, yourself, your fans, as well as your town, city and country.
Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.