Should the NFL Play at all in 2020? RBF

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I was hoping this conversation would stay a little truer to the topic of Covid-19, but everyone has been thoughtful and respectful of differing views. Speaking of the "money-maker" sports, I don't think it's fair to draw a parallel to taxation. Take a moment to read the fallout of Covid-19 budget changes to the Stanford athletic department:


This might be a school with extreme examples, but I believe you can learn a lot from the discontinued sports. Stanford is a school that has gotten into some trouble for maintaining a large endowment fund without using it to address the economic barriers to enrolling in the university.

Sports which are being cut are men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. I would make an argument that wrestling is indeed a sport that attracts a variety of economic classes, but overall those are "pay to play" sports for children of wealth. People often link Title IX and women's athletics from profits men's football and basketball generate, but there is a lot of deeply rooted "rich getting richer" in the athletic scholarships at many universities.

That also doesn't factor in club sports. My financial advisor loves talking about how he jumped through the hoops at his college to officially establish co-ed skiing as a club sports, which appropriated them a budget that they could spend on ski trips and all the partying that goes with it.

What I really hope here is that the shortfalls at the university level finally pushes better oversight on how funds are used. Money is the primary driving factor in university decisions on the level of safety precautions, and I'm definitely concerned over what is about to happen at many campuses before the vaccine is created.
Full disclosure: I haven't read the article you linked yet.

I just generally dislike the current state of people pocketing profits off the top in times of prosperity, but when something like COVID happens, we're not willing to operate in a deficit for a short period of time.
 

AZ_

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Full disclosure: I haven't read the article you linked yet.

I just generally dislike the current state of people pocketing profits off the top in times of prosperity, but when something like COVID happens, we're not willing to operate in a deficit for a short period of time.
Sort of runs contrary to the whole "not for profit" mindset.

Oxymoronic.


But the skim is good, and they'd rather die and fight decades long court battles than give in on the unfair system they've spent generations constructing to enrich the sport and its major stakeholders first.
 

Bob_The_Cat

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What’s it matter if someone in the NFL catches COVID anyways?

As long as they’re daily testing anyone who gets the virus can quarantine for the needed 14 days right after testing....

These guys are not at risk of death from the disease...
Based on what we’ve seen, any player who tests positive is likely out for a month at least if have to guess.

They aren’t just going to be out for 14 days with a respiratory disease and hop back into the lineup in the third week. They’ll have to get back into shape, and that’s assuming best case scenario of being fully over Covid after 2 weeks.

Also, why people are only so focused on death is beyond be. There are some potentially bad long-term issues like reduced lung capacity, neurological problems, and I’m assuming some pretty terrible stuff that we have no idea of.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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I just generally dislike the current state of people pocketing profits off the top in times of prosperity, but when something like COVID happens, we're not willing to operate in a deficit for a short period of time.
What makes you think they're not willing to operate at a deficit for a short period of time? It's likely that pretty much every college in the country is going to be doing that regardless of athletics -- many schools aren't going to be able to charge normal room and board, or have reduced enrollment, but still have to pay all the usual fixed costs. They're going to be taking it in the shorts precisely because they're going to be operating at a deficit for some period of time.

The issue with athletics is longer term. There has been increasing pressure for schools in general to control costs, and sports have been slowly getting phased out for awhile -- particularly for the vast majority of schools where the athletic department is a net negative in terms of revenue. What Stanford did -- for example -- was permanently eliminate some revenue-draining sports. Short-term deficits due to Covid aren't the issue or they'd just cancel them for a year. These are long-term things.

At some point, Boards of Trustees are not going to be able to justify long-term revenue sinks when they have increasing pressure to control costs. Now, you can always find those really wealthy schools that "can afford to lose money for awhile." But the problem they have is justifying spending that money on sports rather than on something "more important" -- whether it be better housing, improved facilities, more money for research, lowering tuition/giving more scholarships, etc.. So even if they can afford to spend more, the question of why that money should be put into athletic departments that are net revenue sinks isn't going to go away.

A legal requirement for schools to actually pay wages to college athletes is going to be the tipping point for a whole lot of schools that will - quite rightly -- decide that sports are no longer worth the headache. No, I wouldn't expect the big money SEC/power 5 schools to eliminate football. But if a lot of other schools do, then the entire concept behind "college football" is toast.
 

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If schools can't figure out how to monetize their athletes and drive more revenue to their universities, then I have little pity for them.

Generating more revenue through jersey sales, player appearances, sponsored activities that would all monetarily benefit the schools. But again, holding other sports hostage because of the NCAA's refusal to respect the economic rights of their players is not a good faith approach to figuring out an amicable solution.
Here's a solution that lets deserving football players get paid, and doesn't cost the schools a penny -- eliminate the 3 years after high school draft-eligibility requirement. Let kids go into the NFL from the moment they graduate high school. Let them leave after their freshman year. Any player who believes he's entitled to the big bucks is free to enter the draft and earn them. Arguably, that's the true restraint of trade, and that's by the NFL, not the colleges.

I'd support that 100%.
 

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Here's a solution that lets deserving football players get paid, and doesn't cost the schools a penny -- eliminate the 3 years after high school draft-eligibility requirement. Let kids go into the NFL from the moment they graduate high school. Let them leave after their freshman year. Any player who believes he's entitled to the big bucks is free to enter the draft and earn them. Arguably, that's the true restraint of trade, and that's by the NFL, not the colleges.

I'd support that 100%.
The NFL would be stupid to do this. There’s only a handful of kids in any given year that are physically ready to compete at the NFL level either straight out of high school or after one year of college. It’s vastly different from the NBA in that regard.

Think about how many 5-star kids go to college and don’t amount to anything. If the NFL does anything, they’d create a separate league that was effectively practice squad plus the guys less than three years out of high school. They likely haven’t done it at this point because college football has served that role without them having to take any risk in terms of creating a league, player development, investment, etc.

They have no incentive to change a rule that has worked so incredibly well for them. Perhaps that changes if college football falls apart, but I still think there’s a good chance another league steps in to take it’s place before the NFL gets involved.

Had the XFL not gone bankrupt they’d be in a great place right now with the likelihood that at the very least most of the non-power 5 schools cancel their seasons. They might still be able to get a season together for the spring, but it seems like a tall task from what I know.
 

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The NFL would be stupid to do this. There’s only a handful of kids in any given year that are physically ready to compete at the NFL level either straight out of high school or after one year of college. It’s vastly different from the NBA in that regard.

Think about how many 5-star kids go to college and don’t amount to anything. If the NFL does anything, they’d create a separate league that was effectively practice squad plus the guys less than three years out of high school. They likely haven’t done it at this point because college football has served that role without them having to take any risk in terms of creating a league, player development, investment, etc.

They have no incentive to change a rule that has worked so incredibly well for them. Perhaps that changes if college football falls apart, but I still think there’s a good chance another league steps in to take it’s place before the NFL gets involved.

Had the XFL not gone bankrupt they’d be in a great place right now with the likelihood that at the very least most of the non-power 5 schools cancel their seasons. They might still be able to get a season together for the spring, but it seems like a tall task from what I know.
I agree that it isn't in the NFL's interest to do that. There current policy essentially lets them use colleges as minor leagues for which they don't have to pay anything. I'm just saying that if someone really wants to apply pressure, that should be the target.

Anyway, the most logical answer does seem to be the XFL/minor leagues. Truth is, colleges don't need those super marquee talents in order to get big TV contracts and pack in fans. The majority of fans follow college football because of either 1) an association with the school as alumni, family member attending, tradition, etc., or 2) geographic proximity/loyalty. It's not because of an attachment to the particular players who generally only start for 2-3 years before moving on. That's demonstrated by the strong ratings and performance of college football despite churning over star players every 2 years or so. Names change, but the fans keep coming/watching because they are supporters of the school/team much more than the particular players.

So, let those star players play in the for-profit minor leagues for a few years before moving on, and let the colleges keep doing what they're doing. I think that would actually help college ball because the players who did choose to go to college rather than play pro ball would be more likely to stick for the full 4 years.
 

Wrathe

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Here's a solution that lets deserving football players get paid, and doesn't cost the schools a penny -- eliminate the 3 years after high school draft-eligibility requirement. Let kids go into the NFL from the moment they graduate high school. Let them leave after their freshman year. Any player who believes he's entitled to the big bucks is free to enter the draft and earn them. Arguably, that's the true restraint of trade, and that's by the NFL, not the colleges.

I'd support that 100%.
That's what I posted like 2 days ago! :p
Let College remain amateur athletes. Let players who have no interest in being an amateur go play elsewhere, it's not the NCAA's concern if that's the NFL, CFL, XFL, or whatever.
 

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I agree that it isn't in the NFL's interest to do that. There current policy essentially lets them use colleges as minor leagues for which they don't have to pay anything. I'm just saying that if someone really wants to apply pressure, that should be the target.

Anyway, the most logical answer does seem to be the XFL/minor leagues. Truth is, colleges don't need those super marquee talents in order to get big TV contracts and pack in fans. The majority of fans follow college football because of either 1) an association with the school as alumni, family member attending, tradition, etc., or 2) geographic proximity/loyalty. It's not because of an attachment to the particular players who generally only start for 2-3 years before moving on. That's demonstrated by the strong ratings and performance of college football despite churning over star players every 2 years or so. Names change, but the fans keep coming/watching because they are supporters of the school/team much more than the particular players.

So, let those star players play in the for-profit minor leagues for a few years before moving on, and let the colleges keep doing what they're doing. I think that would actually help college ball because the players who did choose to go to college rather than play pro ball would be more likely to stick for the full 4 years.
I respect your opinion on this and I can understand the logic, but I just can’t see this at all.

If you believe OSU football would have the same following without the top level prospects pushing them toward national titles every year, I’d say you’re sadly mistaken. The attachment isn’t to the guys who are there 2-3 years. The attachment is to winning. If those elite guys are no longer there, especially the ones that come from all over the country, the interest will certainly wane.

The star players create the interest and the tradition in the modern era. Buckeye fans are used to OSU looking like a pro team at this point. Doesn’t it change a lot if suddenly all those guys are getting paid in a minor league type setup?

I just can’t see OSU packing the horseshoe for a game featuring lower tier athletes. MAC schools can’t even fill 20,000 seat stadiums on a good day.

In all likelihood, I think you’d see high school football really explode and college interest slowly slide. OSU pretty much gets all the top instate talent as is.

It just seems like you’d pretty much be left with a MAC type talent pool at the highest levels of college football if they weren’t doing anything to try and competitively compensate the top guys compared to whatever minor league system pops up. However, they stand to lose too much money if a viable minor-league system comes into play, so the NCAA will have to be proactive in preventing these guys from going elsewhere down the road.
 
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Wrathe

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I respect your opinion on this and I can understand the logic, but I just can’t see this at all.

If you believe OSU football would have the same following without the top level prospects pushing them toward national titles every year, I’d say you’re sadly mistaken. The attachment isn’t to the guys who are there 2-3 years. The attachment is to winning. If those elite guys are no longer there, especially the ones that come from all over the country, the interest will certainly wane.

The star players create the interest and the tradition in the modern era. Buckeye fans are used to OSU looking like a pro team at this point. Doesn’t it change a lot if suddenly all those guys are getting paid in a minor league type setup?

I just can’t see OSU packing the horseshoe for a game featuring lower tier athletes. MAC schools can’t even fill 20,000 seat stadiums on a good day.

In all likelihood, I think you’d see high school football really explode and college interest slowly slide. OSU pretty much gets all the top instate talent as is.

It just seems like you’d pretty much be left with a MAC type talent pool at the highest levels of college football if they weren’t doing anything to try and competitively compensate the top guys compared to whatever minor league system pops up. However, they stand to lose too much money if a viable minor-league system comes into play, so the NCAA will have to be proactive in preventing these guys from going elsewhere down the road.
Thing is, the talent level is relative. If all the players who weren't interested in being amateurs moved on to...whatever other construct they move to; I think we'd still recruit the top talent available from the talent pool because of what our program offers. Ditto for other programs as well. I think you'd be dead on if certain conferences paid where others didn't, but that's not how it is (corruption aside) nor what's being proposed by anyone.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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I respect your opinion on this and I can see the logic, but I just can’t see this at all.

If you believe OSU football would have the same following without the top level prospects pushing them toward national titles every year...
First, why would that be the case? OSU would be no more disadvantaged than would every other powerful team, and shouldn't have any less chance to win a title. If some of the top players are getting skimmed off by the XFL, then the recruiting competition will shift to the second-tier guys. OSU , etc., will still have an advantage, and the other schools will be looking at the third tier QB's instead of the second.

Second, even if you're correct, and it did slightly reduce the advantage of the Power 5 conferences, that just means more parity, right? Even more schools would have a legitimate shot at contention, and that's generally good for overall interest in the sport. I'm a Navy fan. Right now, we along with the vast majority of Division 1 teams have no realistic shot at a national championship. But if we did? Parity would likely be a huge boon to college football overall. And would I be any less of a Navy fan if the top 3 guys currently on Navy had chosen to go play minor ball somewhere instead of going to the Academy? Hell no -- I wouldn't even miss what I never had anyway. I wouldn't give two shits about those guys, and wouldn't have a speck less of interest in my team.

The star players create the interest and the tradition in the modern era. Buckeye fans are used to OSU looking like a pro team at this point. Doesn’t it change a lot if suddenly all those guys are getting paid in a minor league type setup?
I don't agree that it is the star players who drive college football -- certainly not for the vast majority of college football, because the vast majority of college football teams don't have a J.C. Fields or J.R. Dobbins. And even for Buckeye fans, I suspect the vast majority would still follow the team simply because they are still the Buckeyes and would still likely contend for a national championship. I suspect the number of college football fans that would ditch college football and defect to minor league pro football, to follow players with whom they have no school or other connection, would be very low. Has the existence of the G League or Euroleague alternatives hurt the popularity of college basketball? If you're really interested in watching the pros, why in the world would you watch the minor leagues rather than the NFL anyway?

I just can’t see OSU packing the horseshoe for a game featuring lower tier athletes.
But they already do. That's the entire point. NCAA football is clearly a tier below the NFL in terms of athletics, skill, execution, etc.. The best college players typically leave college and go to the NFL early, meaning fans never get to see how good they'd have been as a junior or senior, etc.. But losing those top players hasn't affected the popularity of college football in the least. Fans watch anyway because it is the competition between schools to whom fans feels some level of connection that is the real attraction for most fans. Of course everyone is more interested in their team if it is more competitive and successful, but that won't change because the bowl games, BCS championship, etc., will all still be the exact same.

Look, the actual number of players who will play minor league pro ball rather than participate in college football will be very low. You're talking about the very limited universe of players who 1) aren't good enough as a freshman to go right into the NFL as a high pick, but 2) would be good enough to go into the NFL as a high pick after their freshman or sophomore season, who also 3) don't place much value on a college scholarship/degree and 4) Also really don't value the college experience, playing in front of huge college crowds, or getting taught by college coaches. The vast bulk of those minor league teams -- who are unlikely to get paid very well -- will be of guys not good enough to make it in the NFL. So...I question the number of college FB fans who will abandon their team to watch the Columbus CrotchRotters.

In all likelihood, I think you’d see high school football really explode and college interest slowly slide. OSU pretty much gets all the top instate talent as is.
So fans are going to defect from "second tier" college football to watch third tier high school football? I doubt it. In fact, the appeal of high school football is very similar to college football. People generally don't go to watch high school football because they are the finest athletes in the world, because they're not. They follow the team because that is their school/town.

It just seems like you’d pretty much be left with a MAC type talent pool at the highest levels of college football if they weren’t doing anything to try and competitively compensate the top guys compared to whatever minor league system pops up. However, they stand to lose too much money if a viable minor-league system comes into play, so the NCAA will have to be proactive in preventing these guys from going elsewhere down the road.
There are tons of very good college players who don't bloom until their redshirt junior or senior year. All those guys will keep going to college. Many other guys will have families who insist on them getting their education, or at least insist on them going to college for at least a year or two first to establish their value. The best non-NFL coaches and staffs all will stay with college football as well because the built-in fanbase and financial support will always be better than for minor league teams, and coaches generally like college life. Minor league football will never pack stadiums like college football, and will never have the same degree of wildly enthusiastic fans and booster.

I think the number of true college studs who actually choose to play minor league football -- with everything that implies -- rather than go to college will be a couple dozen at most in every year. And they won't even by all the best players, because a lot of very good players will still want the college scholarship/experience/life. But it at least will give that choice to players who do value that minor-league paycheck over college.
 
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AZ_

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Here's a solution that lets deserving football players get paid, and doesn't cost the schools a penny -- eliminate the 3 years after high school draft-eligibility requirement. Let kids go into the NFL from the moment they graduate high school. Let them leave after their freshman year. Any player who believes he's entitled to the big bucks is free to enter the draft and earn them. Arguably, that's the true restraint of trade, and that's by the NFL, not the colleges.

I'd support that 100%.
This “solution” ignores the problem, which is an unfair system of collegiate athletics which takes advantage of the labor of their athletes for profit.

The better solution is to dip into the hundreds of millions in revenue from conference contracts which they bid over for the rights to broadcast the top talent.
 

Wrathe

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This “solution” ignores the problem, which is an unfair system of collegiate athletics which takes advantage of the labor of their athletes for profit.

The better solution is to dip into the hundreds of millions in revenue from conference contracts which they bid over for the rights to broadcast the top talent.
The solution preserves amateur athletics and gets players who want paid to play, paid. That's win / win. I have to question what we're trying to solve at that point.
Do you just not believe in amateur athletics at all? Olympic athletes should all be paid too, etc?
 

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Let me help you out.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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[/QUOTE]
This “solution” ignores the problem, which is an unfair system of collegiate athletics which takes advantage of the labor of their athletes for profit.

The better solution is to dip into the hundreds of millions in revenue from conference contracts which they bid over for the rights to broadcast the top talent.
So again...exactly what are you proposing? A legal mandate that players must be paid, or just a voluntarily system set by school/conference? And is it a set salary, or can schools bid whatever they want for players?

It also seems you're focusing in on the situation with the Power 5 TV contracts. That's a different animal from a lot of the smaller conferences/schools that have either much smaller contracts, or no contracts at all.
 
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