By David G. Firestone
I would normally not do two My Thoughts On in a week, but I have something I want to discuss tomorrow, so I’ll talk about this now. I’m not a die-hard NFL fan, but I do watch football when I can. I was looking forward to watching the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Packers and the Colts last night. I imagine a lot of people were looking forward to it as well. So imagine our surprise when we found out that the game had been canceled, due to “poor field conditions.” Apparently, the field had been painted prior to the game, and the paint had hardened and congealed, thus making the playing field unsafe.
Who is in charge at the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The Pro Football Hall of Fame has ONE MAJOR FOOTBALL GAME per year, and they can’t get the field properly prepared for it? Who is in charge of the grounds crew? The one football game at your stadium that anyone cares about has to be canceled because of bad turf conditions? I would fire the entire grounds crew and hire new people! Above and beyond that, this directly resulted in the cancellation of A NATIONALLY TELEVISED NFL BROADCAST, but more on that later.
I’d like to say a few things to the NFL. You have not had a great off season in terms of public relations. A lot of people aren’t happy with the NFL right now, and though it could be argued that the league has had a great week, this more than ruins it for many people. This also could not come at a worse time, in terms of television. In case you haven’t noticed, The Olympics are happening, and they are more of a ratings grabber than the NFL preseason. You owe your fans, ESPN, and your sponsors a sincere apology, and a serious explanation.
You are the most popular spectator sport in the country, yet there are times it seems like nobody is really in charge, and you are making procedures up as you go along. You’ve already cost yourself, ESPN, and your sponsors a lot of money this weekend. If I want amateur hour, I’ll go to Open Mic at The Comedy Store on Wednesday. I don’t want amateur hour, I want professionalism. I could understand if severe weather delayed the game. I could even understand if severe weather the night before damaged the field, thus rendering it unplayable. But when you have a whole year to prepare for an event, and you fuck it up at the eleventh hour by doing something that could have been done a long time in advance, there is no excuse.
I experienced this lack of leadership and organization first hand at the NFL Draft on April 28th. I discussed that I had a seat filler ticket, and that there were more fillers than seats. What I DIDN’T mention was how amazingly disorganized the check-in procedures were. I had received my tickets on April 11, through a company called “1iota” which bills itself as a free ticket site for fans. They have tickets for Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Voice, The VMA’s, Live with Kelly, GMA, The Chew, and The View. They also have deals with a number of celebrities including Alica Keys, Carol Burnett, Dennis Rodman, Emmitt Smith, Jessica Alba, Meg Ryan, Miley Cyrus, Kieth Urban, Pete Rose, Tony Hawk, and Yakov Smirnoff. They aren’t exactly dealing with small time people…except for Yakov Smirnoff.
When I went, I was expecting a professional check in, with people who knew what they were doing, and what was going on. It’s a pretty reasonable expectation, but in practice, it wasn’t anywhere near professional or organized. Nobody I talked to knew what was going on, there were too many seat fillers, and not enough 1iota personnel, organization wasn’t anywhere to be found, and the whole process was needlessly complicated, and overly aggravating. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have gone to Draft Town, which should have been called “Corporate Shill Town,” and skipped the ticket line entirely. I had fun at Shill Town, but the ticket process was rage inducing. As a result of The NFL Draft, I will NEVER USE 1IOTA AGAIN FOR ANYTHING! They could pay me to take the tickets, and I will tell them to fuck off!
I’d also like to refer to Super Bowl XLV. This took place four days after The Blizzard of 2011. Because of the storms, work inside the stadium wasn’t finished in time, and as a result, 500 people who had purchased Super Bowl tickets had to be turned away. Again, there was more than enough time to make sure that this was done right. AT&T Stadium had been selected in 2007. The only events that took place between January 15 and February 6 were stadium tours. That means that the stadium crew had more than enough time to make sure everything was ready by the time the game was ready. Even with the blizzard, which took place on January 31-February 2, there is no reason that this shouldn’t have been an issue.
Why is this an issue? Because the NFL, like most companies, especially sports leagues is CONSUMER DRIVEN! If the consumers aren’t happy, you are going to lose money! The NFL has shown that they don’t care about fans, but want their money. Yet, without the fans, you have no money. You would think that the most popular fan sport would do everything to keep the fans happy, but the NFL doesn’t seem to care that their main source of income isn’t exactly thrilled with what has been going on.
I’m really hoping that when football resumes on Thursday, there won’t be major issues…but I’m not holding my breath!