Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Vick’s Indictment is Good for the NFL

After reading the heinous charges against Michael Vick, my initial reaction was that this story was a nightmare for the NFL. But after considering it some more, I think it will actually be good for the NFL.

How can it be a good thing to have one of your star players accused of operating a brutal dog fighting operation? Because it will increase ratings! After all, who would not want to watch Vick’s first game of the year? There will be so many interesting components. How will the announcers handle it? Will they condemn him, or say that he is innocent until proven guilty? Will they ignore the issue completely? It will be fascinating.

It will also be interesting to see how Vick and his teammates handle the situation. Will Vick crack under the pressure? Will the mob of press be such a distraction to the team that they cannot play well? The telecast will be such a train wreck, and so fascinating on many levels, that you will have to watch. And after all, that is why the networks are paying the NFL billions of dollars – to get people to watch.

The only way the Vick situation will be bad for the NFL is if PETA and other organizations can affect the NFL’s sponsors. If they can cause sponsors to drop out of the sport, that will hit the NFL where it really hurts – the bottom line. What good are ratings, if you can’t sell the ad space?

But that won’t happen. First of all, sponsors will not leave the NFL in mass. The ratings are too high, and the NFL’s product reaches all the right demographics. And even if some sponsors do leave, so what? There will be a line of new ones to take their place.

And if you’re thinking that this whole situation will be avoided when the NFL suspends Vick, think again. They have absolutely no incentive to suspend him. For starters, the product on the field is better when Vick is playing than when he is not. Vick has to be better than any replacement, or he wouldn’t have been starting to begin with. The other reason, again, is ratings. More people will tune in to see Vick play than to see his replacement play. And the NFL can easily defend a decision to not suspend Vick. Despite the mountain of evidence against him, the NFL can always hide behind the fact that he is “innocent until proven guilty.”

So get ready for September 9. Atlanta vs. Minnesota will be must-see TV.