You responded. We listened. Well, not really. We’re terrible listeners. But we do know how to ask questions and sit around and wait for the responses. And respond, you did.
Early in the season, The Hit Job opened up a two-question survey asking you about your level of satisfaction with the 2016 version of the NFL. We asked:
1. Do you enjoy the NFL now as much as you did five or more years ago?
Your answers: An overwhelming decline in satisfaction. A full 90 percent of respondents said “No.” For the math-challenged readers, that left 10 percent of you that felt the NFL was just as satisfactory now as it was in yesteryear. Satisfaction being a relative and personal definition, of course.
We dove into the whys with the next question:
2. Which of these factors, if any, negatively impact your view of the NFL? Select as many as applicable.
The top five complaints:
- Concussions / head trauma / spinal injuries — 74.29%
- Application of game rules — 58.57%
- NFL’s application of discipline of players/coaches — 55.71%
- On-field game quality / quality of match-ups — 52.86%
- The cost of attending games — 50.00%
These five factors represent the reddest of the red flags the NFL should be paying attention to, according to you.
It’s no surprise that concussions and head trauma are at the head of this list. One factor I observed as the survey and season went on (survey was open from early October 2016 until the conclusion of the regular season) is that the concussions factor started out higher (more than 85 percent) and declined to 74.29 percent by season’s end.
We can attribute that to a relative lack of devastating head and neck injuries thus far in the 2016 season. While a handful of NFL players may well have seen their last on-field action due to trauma ([pure speculation on my part] Sam Shields, Jordan Cameron, Shamarko Thomas, James Starks, possibly others), the NFL has probably gotten lucky in that there were no major stars that experienced potential career-ending head/neck traumas.
It was reported at the conclusion of the 2015 season that there was a significant rise in concussion diagnoses for that season. Diagnosed concussions rose by nearly 32 percent in the NFL two seasons ago. Figures for 2016 have not yet been released. Perhaps a more uniform and rigorous sideline process, plus a change in the NFL players culture occurred in 2015 and has held steady in 2016.
The second-highest complaint about today’s NFL are the application of game rules. — 58.57 percent. NFL followers are more annoyed than not with the rules in place. Although not addressed in the survey, the top rules complaint appears to include what is / is not a catch, if the Twitterverse is to be believed. My own opinion is in the minority: the rules around what constitute a catch are fine. We can argue about it here:
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People also really don’t like the NFL’s application of discipline for players and coaches. That it ranked third is a surprise to me. I consider the fourth-place factor, On-field game quality / quality of match-ups — 52.86 percent, a more problematic issue. There were a lot of dud match-ups in 2016. Many of which were trotted out during the NFL’s ill-fated Thursday Night Football lineup, which in an effort to minimize travel and preparation for unfamiliar opponents, tried (whenever possible) to pair division rivals. Unfortunately, this arrangement often left the two worst teams in any given division a showcase of “meh.”
Half of the respondents said that the cost of attending games is a real factor in their level of satisfaction. Personally, I would have thought that would rank higher.
The other complaints:
6. Player off-field behavior (arrests, cringe-inducing news events) — 44.29% (People don’t like you when you make negative news)
7. Deflategate — 35.71% (More than 1/3 of NFL followers are still upset about this)
8. Player suspensions due to recreational drugs — 27.14%
9. International Series of games (London, Mexico) — 24.29%
10. Fantasy football / daily fantasy sports — 21.43% (the ubiquitous commercials from 2015 all but disappeared in 2016)
What the NFL is getting right (less than 20 percent dissatisfaction)
The NFL is OK when it comes to viewing options. Only 10 percent of respondents thought the league wasn’t providing enough opportunities to view the games. New deals with Yahoo, Twitter and the ongoing deals with the major networks and the NFL Network appear to be satisfactory.
NFL followers also are not bothered in large part by NFL uniform changes (11.43%), which I hope is not a vote of endorsement of the Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Seattle Seahawks’ uniforms, and player suspensions due to performance enhancing drugs (11.43%). Have most players really moved on from this or have they just gotten better at beating tests?
Old complaints, gambling concerns (15.71%) and instant replay (20.00%) have become minor factors for most.
The biggest surprise of this survey, particularly if you paid close attention to the media coverage at the conclusion of the preseason and the first few weeks of the season, is the lack of enmity NFL followers have for the players’ National Anthem protests. According to our survey results, only 12.86 percent of respondents needed to complain about National Anthem protests / player political activism. So continue to speak out, NFL players. You’re safe in doing so.
Thanks to those of you who took the time to participate in this survey. Many of you also offered your anonymous comments. Here are a select few (unedited):
no fun league, celebrate a touchdown
Reffing sucks, hate penalties for celebrations, hate blacked-out games.
Too many commercial breaks
Salary structure that results in reductions in veterans in “non-skill” positions, further undermining quality of play. Also — Thursday night games…
Cut the cord. Can’t see games.
saturation of coverage, greed, corruption
Poor officiating. Horrible forty niners front office and coaching
Becoming a soccer fan has completely ruined me. No longer the patience for a 3-hour game with umpteen jillion ads.
Commercials, player transience, the existence of Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell Sucks.
It’s an opiate for the masses. Fans take it way too seriously, and our culture propagates this hyper admiration of sports and athletes. Many more reasons as well, but I’ll spare you the blather.
too many ads, too many penalties
basically being no fun…on celebrations, uniforms, etc.
Injuries that aren’t head traumas or spinal but have the potential to end careers-it’s heartbreaking to see them
Commercials at an astounding rate. Every five minutes.
The underhanded way the NFL has done and continues to do business.
Length of games!!
I still love it. Go Hawks!
Does any of this sound like you? Feel free to keep the conversation going with your comments. Thanks again for your participation!
© julian rogers | follow The Hit Job