The Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball need to take note of what’s happening in the National Football League. First off, keep in mind that the NFL and MLB don’t necessarily compete against each other. They overlap a bit, but baseball is a summer sport. Football is an autumn/winter sport.
That aside, the NFL is seeing a bit of a dip in their ratings. Not a huge dip mind you, but a slight one. However that would have been unheard of even a few years ago. And there may be numerous reasons why that is, including perhaps people watching non-stop election coverage. However my own theory is actually fairly simplistic: too much regulation.
Perhaps more so than in any other sport, we’ve seen a lot more rules in football of late, many of which are legitimately designed to protect players. However I’ve previously touched on how rules can at times contradict one another, such as the player who thought he wasn’t in violation when he pretended the football was a basketball and shot a fadeaway over the goalpost after a touchdown. However he was flagged for “using the ball as a prop.”
But we’re also seeing more and more defensive players being flagged for unnecessary roughness when in fact they’re making legal hits. They legislated helmet-to-helmet hits out of the game, however now defensive players are starting to be flagged even when they’re leading with their shoulders. Now apparently the line has moved from helmet-to-helmet to if it’s a hard and cracking hit, it’s a penalty.
The point is that in my opinion these regulations are getting excessive. Furthermore some contradict each other, and that dilutes the product the league is looking to put out. And here’s another point; there are too many prime time games. It used to be Sunday and Monday nights, but now they also do a Thursday night game. So two teams are playing on extremely short rest each week. Again, that makes the product itself worse than it needs to be.
So this is where MLB needs to take notice; perhaps let players play the games, and not umpires. A common hashtag I see league-wide is #umpshow. Fans use it when umpires seemingly get out of control and appear to aim to be “the show” (as opposed to the players). When you heap all of these regulations on umpires, they have to figure out which ones to enforce and how to do so. That’s what’s going on in the NFL right now – refs are confused. And it’s affecting the ratings.
Furthermore, and I’ve said this previously, replay reviews are out of control. In both the NFL and MLB, officials can review the play for as long as they want. And then they have to split hairs over what’s considered irrefutable evidence. In my view you should get two minutes to physically look at the play; if you don’t know after that amount of time, it’s inconclusive.
I recognize that officials in all sports are trying to do their best. No umpire or referee wants to get the call wrong. But in heaping so many rules, angles, regulations, etc. onto them, the lines between fair and foul are often being blurred. And if the NFL is any indication, it’s affecting viewership.