A few items of interest:
1) Nate Silver makes a quick and dirty assessment of Roger Goodell’s value to NFL owners. He points out that NFL franchise values have risen tremendously in the past quarter of a century; the average pro football team is now worth $1.4 billion and, cumulatively, NFL teams are worth almost twice as much as MLB franchises are. But in relative terms, much of that growth occurred before Goodell became commissioner in 2006. In fact, since 2006, the franchise values of the NHL, NBA and MLB have grown much faster in relative terms than has been true of the NFL.
There’s no argument here about how lucrative the NFL is. But whether Goodell is critical to the leagues continued economic success is another story. Silver’s analysis is, as he notes, just one way of evaluating Goodell’s value added.
2) in keeping with an occasional hobbyhorse of mine, I direct your attention to Craig Calcaterra’s long meditation on why baseball is, in fact, thriving. One point that Calcaterra makes is that it’s misleading to cite television ratings as a sign of baseball’s decline. It is true, of course, that viewership for baseball’s signature events has been eroding for some time. But Calcaterra reminds us that television ratings per show are down in general. The top-rated non football show last year, for example, The Big Bang Theory, drew a much smaller audience than All in the Family did when it was the top-rated show in the early 1970s. But no one looks at this as a sign of decline for the Big Bang Theory. Television has changed and football’s undeniable grip on ratings hegemony notwithstanding, baseball’s reduced national television audience means far less than many pundits presume.
3) In the wake of the all of the swirling controversy this week about Ray Rice’s assault and the NFL’s response to it, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was asked about his sport’s approach to the problem. In his typical simultaneously obtuse and self-congratulatory, Selig said he couldn’t remember the last time baseball had had to deal with such an issue and that he was proud of how baseball “effectively” tackled the challenges it faced.
Selig’s memory on this score should not be mistaken for a presumption that baseball players have never been accused or found guilty of violence against women. Indeed there have been some awful cases in recent years. Bud just can’t remember.