It’s halftime for the 2017-2018 National Football League (NFL) season. All the teams have played eight or nine of their 16 regular-season games.
Is it just me, or does this season seem less exciting than past years’?
I don’t think it’s just me. NFL television ratings are down. According to Nielsen, a company that keeps track of what people watch on television, 5 percent fewer people are watching NFL games than in 2016. And 18.7 percent fewer are watching than in 2015.
No one is sure why there has been such a big drop. But here are some possible reasons that fewer folks are watching America’s favorite sport.
Injuries: Football has always been a rough game, but the NFL seems rougher than ever. Maybe too rough.
This season, some terrific players are on the sidelines. Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and DeShaun Watson (Houston Texans) are all out.
Closer to home, the Washington Redskins are missing almost their entire offensive line as well as several defenders. It’s not much fun to watch a game when the trainers and team doctors are on the field as much as the players are.
Parity: This is a fancy word to say there are no great teams in the NFL anymore. Looking at the standings after Week 9, 19 of the 32 teams have records between 5-3 (five wins, three losses) and 3-5.
There are some good teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), New England Patriots (6-2) and the surprising Los Angeles Rams (6-2), but not enough. Maybe it’s hard for fans to get excited when so many teams seem to be stuck in the middle.
Quality of play: Let’s face it, some NFL games are dull. Coaches are so afraid of mistakes that they call too many screens, draws and short passes. That may be safe and smart, but it isn’t very entertaining.
However, every Saturday there are wild, hold-your-breath college football games. Last Saturday, for example, Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State, 62-52. The winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield, threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns.
The college kids may not be as good as the pros, but they are fun to watch.
Protests: Since last season, some NFL players have been kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against people of color in the United States. Some NFL fans may be staying away from the games because they think the players’ protests are disrespectful to the flag and people serving in the military.
Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that fewer people are watching NFL games. It will be interesting to see if they stay away for the second half, too.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 22 sports books for kids.