Okay, I realize that they sort of already do by extension. The billions of dollars CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN hand to the league help teams build new venues. But why are taxpayers constantly charged with splitting the bill for these billion-dollar monstrosities? Why not make the television networks pay for everything the owners can’t cover on their own?
Earlier this week, Joe Soucheray of the St. Paul Pioneer Press pissed off quite a few football fans when he suggested that the public shouldn’t be responsible for financing a proposed new Vikings stadium. Soucheray listed two primary reasons for his protest: 1) the game is becoming too theatrical, and 2) the game is becoming too violent.
I have always had a solution, well, as to who should pay anyway. Television networks should build football stadiums. They control the game, they hunger for the bloodiness that has resulted in such boffo ratings. These stadiums are soundstages.
Where Soucheray claims that professional football is “morphing into a quasi sport/reality TV show,” he’s being hyperbolic (I hope) but he’s also making a good point. Television, he says, controls football. Because that’s where the money is.
“Television dictates everything: the start times, the length of the game, the principal matchups,” Soucheray wrote in a follow-up column published today. “Is it really so far-fetched to imagine a time when they will dictate the outcomes?”
Once again, it’s an over-the-top, borderline facetious point. But while the second part is far-fetched, the first part is already true.
The major premise here is that people shouldn’t be paying for something that a) many of them don’t care for (there are more non-fans than fans in the United States), and b) most of them don’t benefit from.
Networks would obviously never show interest in paying to build new venues, because they know that stadiums are irrelevant in the NFL’s get-rich-quick scheme. They rapidly depreciate in value and do very little to make the league and its teams money.
The NFL is the most lucrative professional sports league on the planet despite the fact that approximately four out of five football fans don’t step foot in the league’s stadiums. Instead, they do what North Americans do best: they kick back on their couches with an oversized bag of Cheetos and enjoy football remotely.
On CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.
Most fans couldn’t care less where the games are played, so long as they’re played. And so long as they have their Cheetos.