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The American couch potato has an insatiable appetite for sound and fury, and Sundays in the fall are a feeding frenzy. On one side of the dial there’s the NFL – the sport that doesn’t so much pit man against man as much as http://www.officialnewyorkrangers.com/Adidas-Brady-Skjei-Jersey ram them together, over and over. On the other there’s Nascar, which takes those very mesmerizing bits of pro football – the speed, the collisions – and puts it all on wheels. For decades this split bill attracted crowds in droves. But now those crowds appear to be thinning.
The players’ national anthem protest – which, just to remind everyone, is not meant to rebuke the armed forces but, rather, bring greater awareness to racial injustice – has made for a convenient scapegoat. Even commissioner Roger Goodell, whose early diplomatic tone on the issue landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated interlocked with LeBron James and Steph Curry, leans on that excuse now. “People come to our stadiums to have fun not to be protested to,” he said earlier this month.
Never mind that the NFL’s ratings problems run deeper than players kneeling during the anthem, which barely eats more than a minute of a broadcast that lasts at minimum three hours. In some ways the league set itself up for failure by committing so completely over the past decade to the rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, http://www.officialhockeyusaonline.com/authentic+usa+81+phil+kessel+jersey the latter of whom retired two seasons ago after helping the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. Two star QBs who could step into that breach, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Houston’s Deshaun Watson, are out with season-ending injuries. Thursday Night Football has proven to be a disastrous experiment, one that produces far more player injuries than actual entertainment. Meanwhile stories continue to emerge about the adverse effects football has on players’ long-term health. All of it makes the NFL that much more difficult to sit with.
Still, things could be worse for the NFL. It could be Nascar. A decade ago the sport emerged as an unlikely challenger to pro football’s small-screen primacy, attracting nearly 20 million viewers to the 2006 Daytona 500. But Nascar has lost more than 45% of its audience since then, according to Nielsen. What’s more, equally dismal live spectator figures have compelled some tracks to remove seats Cameron Artis-Payne Jersey from their grandstands. Denny Hamlin, a star Nascar driver, has made his peace with this. “People with smartphones, they’re rewatching races in the back of their car going up the highway,” he said back in April. “You don’t have to attend these races anymore. You get such a good experience through your cellphone, so the way we measure attendance and we measure TV ratings and all that’s always skewed because we live in a different world now.”
Like the NFL, Nascar can’t trace its decline back to a single source. Certainly the global financial crisis, which hit the automotive industry especially hard, didn’t help. Nor has Nascar’s compulsion to change its rules, especially the ones the define how its championships are won, on a whim. Worst Kenny Golladay Youth jersey of all, the sport can’t seem to stop hemorrhaging star drivers. Two years ago it saw the retirements of Jeff Gordon (a five-time series champion), Tony Stewart (a three-time champ) and Carl Edwards (an oft-snakebitten contender). This year Matt Kenseth (the 2003 series champion), Dale Earnhardt Jr (Nascar’s most popular driver) and Danica Patrick (its iconic female trailblazer) will call time. Many of the drivers racing in their stead are young and lightly experienced. The hope is that this will appeal to millennial viewers, a demographic Nascar struggles to attract. A recent entitlement pact with Monster Energy – which has brought, among other things, its caffeine-stuffed drinks and sexually charged brand ambassadors to the track – has done little to alter that fact so far.