Who: Elizabeth Aube-VanPatten, PhD-C, is an associate professor in the Sports, Entertainment and Event Management degree program at Johnson & Wales University. Professor VanPatten’s industry experience includes extensive time within the realm of professional sports.
Agree or Disagree with Article: Disagree
Her Defense: Amid the Deflategate controversy, many sports fans have questioned whether or not sports are turning into a charade for entertainment purposes. In the 2015 article Dramatic Difference Between Sports and Sports Entertainment, the author remarks that, “Sports come with rules. Sports entertainment comes with the illusion of rules. Guess which one best describes the National Football League? This is why my level of trust in the NFL is at an all-time low, yet I'll still keep watching it for the entertainment value. Just as I've been doing for many years.”
The author, Jerry Davich, bases his opinions off of the Deflategate controversy — where Tom Brady allegedly had a hand in deflating footballs ahead of the 2015 AFC championship game. In the article, Davich makes the unfortunate mistake that most media outlets did throughout the Deflategate drama: assuming Tom Brady was guilty before due process. In fact, the actual court case happened not to prove Brady actually tampered with footballs, but to examine whether or not the Commissioner of the NFL had the authority to inflict such a punishment on a player.
The author states that rules are not the bottom line of the NFL. “I routinely suspend my belief that this multi-billion dollar ‘sport’ is rigidly guided by something as silly, antiquated and irrelevant as rules. Revenue, not rules, is the bottom line here, just as it is with most sports entertainment performances,” he said.
This is untrue.
The NFL is governed by rules. For example, concussion protocol over the last several years has changed drastically. In addition, there have been significant rule changes as to how a player can hit or tackle another player on the field. These revamped rules are now being enforced throughout the league on a daily basis.
The author also makes an argument about integrity versus cash flow and why NFL viewership is down.
“Remember, the NFL cares about its integrity as long as the money keeps flowing. It's a business first, an entertainment vehicle second and a sport dead last,” Davich said.
Though this article was written in 2015, the author’s statement about integrity is still false today. Recent polls taken from major news outlets suggest viewership is partially down due to recent instances of players kneeling during the national anthem. If the author’s statement was true, the NFL would punish the players and not allow them to exercise their first amendment right of freedom of expression. Instead, the NFL is allowing the players to express their opinion by kneeling and is not imposing fines.
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