Why don’t fans hold the NFL accountable?

By: Nick Zobel, @Nick_Zobel

On Tuesday, the NFL was reminded once again of its off-field issues when Adrian Peterson plead no contest to his child abuse charges and received a proverbial slap on the wrist. While the justice system may have tried to keep the NFL accountable for its issues, there’s one group that hasn’t - fans.

This summer’s child, domestic and drug abuse scandals have had little impact on the NFL’s popularity, with Sunday football only suffering a small dip in ratings while Monday and Thursday games are up big.

Surely, the NFL’s mishandling of domestic abuse cases has impacted its female viewership, right? Not so. With male viewership flat since 2009, the NFL’s current ratings boosts must be supported by maintaining female viewers, who make up 35 percent of fans. Have fans forgotten about this summer?

We can look to Tuesday’s other big news to understand fans’ inability to turn off the NFL. Election Day –– no, not the second round of College Football “elections” –– brought us a new government.The bar is low for the 114th Congress, which is replacing a government that has a 15% approval ratingand, when compared head-to-head, a favorability below root canals, Nickelback and even colonoscopies.

So should we expect a government full of brand new politicians, ready with fresh ideas and an aversion to the mistakes of their predecessors?

Don’t hold your breath. Of the 458 incumbents who ran for reelection in the House and Senate, only 17 were removed. So much for “change we can believe in.”

The reason is simple: we hate Congress, but we love our representative. Government might be “the problem,” but it’s easy to hate a vague entity. How can you vote against your friendly neighborhood congressman who sends you a nice letter during the holidays?

It’s the same problem with the NFL. 

We criticize the league for not policing its players, we call for Roger Goodell to be reprimanded, and yet every Thursday, Sunday and Monday we heat up the grill and cheer on our team. We separate our teams from the league because; perish the thought, that we give up our entertainment, our weekly rituals, our loyalties. You’ll give up on the commissioner, but not on your Raiders (though you might want to be giving up on them too).

Domestic abuse? That’s the NFL’s problem. My problem is whether Tony Romo is starting.

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