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Postby slowkidz » Tue Jul 01, 2003 12:37 pm

i still laugh when i think of "And now...Bank One proudly presents...Chicago Football!!!" lmao

NFL heading down the wrong path
By Mike Bruton

PHILADELPHIA - What the Chicago Bears did by
signing Bank One as their "presenting partner"
pushes the NFL a step closer to being guilty of
putting the proverbial golden goose's neck on the
chopping block.

While the league is enjoying unparalleled
popularity, it and its member teams don't seem
capable of resisting the urge to exploit it
financially to the fullest.

It's hard enough to explain sucking up taxpayers'
money for new stadiums while franchise owners
take in the profits and schools and other public
entities suffer.

Securing naming rights for tens of millions of
dollars is more of a victimless endeavor, but it
smacks of greed on both the teams' and
corporations' parts.

Then there are the Bears. Public resistance
prevented them from getting $100 million or so
for naming rights for renovated Soldier Field
because the stadium is a war memorial. So they
signed a deal with Bank One to use the company's
name on signs throughout the stadium, on radio
broadcasts, and on non-game television programs.
On those broadcasts, announcers will be talking
about "Bears football presented by Bank One"
instead of just "da Bears."

Fans may be wild and crazy -- just check their
makeup and how they dress when they attend games
-- but they aren't stupid.

The NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL, to
varying degrees, are experiencing either
shrinking fan bases or sluggish growth. For the
recent NBA Finals, the television ratings were
down more than one-third from last year, the
worst they had been in more than 20 years.

If deals like this Bank One thing start to break
out like a rash, could the NFL be far behind the
other major sports leagues?

Richard Lapchick, the director of the sports
business management program at the University of
Central Florida, sees what the Bears are doing as
a continuation of a dangerously unchecked
capitalistic surge in sports. He sees an
atmosphere similar to that which preceded
scandals at such companies as Enron, WorldCom and

Here we are, with increasing unemployment and an
uncertain Wall Street, and just last week, the
Federal Reserve cut interest rates even though
they were already the lowest they had been in 50
years. Those are not indicators of confidence.

"There's an uncertainty out there that, in some
ways, mirrors the world of sports," Lapchick
said. "The average sports fan not that many years
ago, in the early '90s, could have counted on his
favorite player being on the team the next year,
could have counted on the coach staying with the
team the next eight or 10 years, could have
counted on the team being in the same stadium
rather than leaving town over stadium issues."

At a time when corporate executives are doing
perp walks and corporate diva Martha Stewart is
facing a judge, fans can see that professional
sports franchises are behaving in a similar
fashion by snatching up money because they can,
even when it doesn't pass the smell test.

Add to that such things as Tampa Bay Buccaneers
running back Michael Pittman facing assault
charges, Arizona Cardinals fullback Dennis
McKinley being accused of being part of an
international drug-smuggling ring, and the
college football coaches who have recently made
headlines for moral and ethical lapses and things
start to reach a critical mass.

In other leagues, this atmosphere has resulted
"in a diminished fan base attending games and a
diminished fan base watching games," Lapchick
said. "Really, the NFL is the only league where
that has not happened yet."

The operative word there is "yet."

The Bears' deal with Bank One is unprecedented in
the NFL, but if the recent past is an indicator,
it will be copied by several other teams. The
slope will become more and more slippery.

"I think sports is out of hand," said Joe Nathan,
senior fellow and director for the Center of
School Change at the University of Minnesota.
"It's past extreme and past ridiculous and
bordering on absurd. Some of the central values
of the country and the central value of sports
are being lost in the push for the buck."

Nathan, a longtime education activist and critic
of the NCAA, said that he thinks sports in
general have enormous value, that they entertain,
build camaraderie and character, and are a
positive outlet for youth.

As a former college athlete, I can attest to the
worthiness of sports, but like Nathan, I believe
that something in the games are lost or tarnished
when corporate concerns gain too much influence.

"I've spent a lot of time in Cincinnati," Nathan
said, "and one of the ironies of Cincinnati is
that they have beautiful new stadiums right next
to the river at a time when the school buildings
in the city are crumbling. The priorities
(nationwide) are so far out of whack that we
don't even know where 'whack' is anymore."

Teams will point to $100 million contracts, such
as those of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and
Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, and tell fans
that they need extra revenue streams in order to
pay for them. They will say that in order to win,
they must have new stadiums, and then they will
ask fans to purchase personal seat licenses for
thousands of dollars just to have the right to
buy tickets.

"Any time sports franchises have the opportunity
to increase their bottom line, they seize that
opportunity," Lapchick said. "It's very typical
for owners to blame the players for economic
woes, but in the economy of sports, what happens
when a team changes hands?"

Even if the team is just barely breaking even
financially when the owner sells it, he or she
reaps a windfall.

"Owners singing the blues in professional
sports," Lapchick said, "have to be looked at
with some skepticism."

Instead of always looking at the bottom line, the
NFL would be well-advised to monitor the health
of the proverbial goose.
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Postby t-love » Tue Jul 01, 2003 5:36 pm

I can here Chris Berman now.
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Postby Homeless » Tue Jul 01, 2003 5:58 pm

NFL = Not For Love
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