May: Super Bawl — how the NFL lost my viewership


For those of you who don’t know, the Super Bowl is this Sunday. Every year, I spend the two weeks between the final whistle of the Conference Championship Game until kickoff of the big game analyzing stats, looking over prop bets, and all around looking forward to the cultural and social spectacle that is the Super Bowl. This year, however, I am happy to say that I will not be a part of the one third of the U.S. population likely to tune in on Sunday.

People who know me well will just assume I am being bitter. As a lifelong Chiefs fan, the disappointment that occurred a couple weeks ago is still causing me pain, but has very little to do with the decision. In fact, the choice has to due with the NFL’s efforts to change the game.

The Sunday before last, for the first time in NFL history, both conference championship games went to overtime. While both games were absolute thrillers, they both in all likelihood were decided by the officials.

In the NFC Championship Game, as even the most casual of fan has heard by now, a controversial no-call on a blatant third-down pass interference limited the Saints to a field goal on a promising drive late in the fourth quarter.

Additionally, in the AFC Championship Game, on a second and seven late in the game, a flag was thrown. With the Chiefs leading for the first time in the game, the penalty was called against Chris Jones for supposedly making contact to the head of the quarterback. In this instance, however, there was clearly no contact with Brady’s head. Though it is hard to say that the Patriots, lead by the G.O.A.T., would not have converted on the ensuing third and seven — see three straight conversions on third and 10 in overtime — it’s almost certain that the course of sports history had forever been altered.

The blame, however, should not fall on the officials on the field. Just like the players, they are performing to the best of their ability. Just like receivers will occasionally drop a third-and-long pass, or a back will fumble on a critical late-game drive, so too can officials drop the ball (pun definitely intended) on an outcome-altering call late in the waning seconds of a crucial matchup.

The people truly damaging the game are the members of the NFL Competition Committee, who, through their efforts to improve the game, have instead pushed too far — tipping the delicate balance between safety and a pleasant viewer experience.

This, coupled with the most successful dynasty in the history of professional sports, has led to games that some fans have begun to believe are “rigged.” While I don’t personally believe that the NFL provides any team with an unfair advantage through intentional miscalls, the fact remains that a select few teams are more willing to walk the fine line that splits the legal from the illegal — even if it means the occasional controversy (i.e. spy-gate, deflate-gate, etc.). The inconvenient truth is that the NFL, through their consistent efforts to create a safer league, have ruined the game, in my mind at least.

Although I will always have a place in my heart for my beloved Chiefs, I will nevertheless have a difficult decision come next August when games begin again. For now, however, the NFL will officially have one less viewer.

The commercials are overrated anyways.