The NFL is dying

While the NBA is thriving

Bilal Suleiman, Opinion Writer

2018 hasn’t been a great year for the NFL. The kneeling for the national anthem issue, started by Colin Kaepernick never got resolved. In fact, the NFL may have shot themselves in the foot this offseason when they tried to implement a rule that they thought would take care of the issue. While I think it’s silly how much time people spend coving the topic of kneeling for the national anthem, it and other factors are simply highlighting an indisputable fact: the NFL is slowly dying. And the NBA is rising to take its place as the number one sport in America.

While we could talk about the kneeling issue, the concussion issue or the roughing the passer issue. The ultimate reason the NFL is dying is that the way we watch sports nowadays is different.

Last season, the NFL’s league wide ratings were down an average of seven percent compared to years past. Analysts blamed this on the national anthem protests, saying fans did not want a product that didn’t support the US military and veterans.

A more likely explanation is that as more Americans ditch their cable bill in favor of streaming and online services, less casual fans will have access to watch the sport. Football was the perfect sport for TV because constant stoppages in play ensured plenty of time for advertisements throughout the game. This wasn’t a problem back when there were only three major television networks and no other options to choose from.

The NBA, on the other hand, is going to be the sport to carry on the torch when the NFL is gone. The NBA is the perfect sport for the age of the internet and social media. NBA players nowadays all use social media to promote themselves and their brands, interact with teammates and troll each other. They’re really good at knowing how to use social media. Many of the stories that the talking heads on ESPN debate all day originate on social media.

Twitter beef between players on rival teams can add drama to an upcoming matchup. A cryptic tweet from a disgruntled star will have the talking heads speculating which team they’ll sign with next. The social media aspect adds another layer of pics, memes, speculation and information to the fan experience that the modern-day fan not only wants but expects.

The NBA and the NFL are on opposite ends of a seesaw. The NBA manages to make ESPN headlines all year round. Even during the offseason, we’ll talk about NBA free agency moves and gossip, whereas the NFL can’t seem to get out of its own way. When the NFL tries to fix one of its problems, two more grow in its place.

When you boil it down to its core, it comes down to authenticity. The NBA cares. They pay their players more fairly and support causes that their fans support. The NBA makes every decision with the fan in mind and always side with what is better for the fan. The NFL seems to make decisions with only its owners in mind and it shows.