A movie that won’t come out until Christmas got a big headline in the New York Times today. “Concussion” is about the brain damage caused by NFL players’ concussions, but the paper reported that Sony softened the script under pressure from the league.
The report itself was unusual — it was based on Sony emails from more than a year ago, stolen when hackers broke into the studio’s computer system. The director of “Concussion,” director, Peter Landesman, says nothing was softened, and he never had any contact with the NFL. The underlying premise: the NFL is so powerful that it gets what it wants. And there is no denying the NFL has become a year-round media powerhouse.
Seventeen weeks. That’s how long the NFL season lasts. Technically. But there’s also free agency, the scouting combine, the draft, training camp, and let’s not forget Fantasy Football. People have to check on who’s injured and who’s looking good, right?
“I think they really achieved a nice balance of being able to have events that people continuously look forward to during the off season,” says Rodney Paul, who teaches sport management at Syracuse University. He says spacing events throughout the year keeps people buzzing about the sport. And it fills those quieter off months, according to Peter Rosenberger, who teaches sport management at NYU.
“So it becomes nearly a 12-month cycle, where there’s constant interest and chatter,” he says.
And that chatter is all over sites like Facebook and Twitter, even when you think it’s time to move on, Rosenberger says.
“Start watching hockey, folks. Hockey’s a great sport. No, no, no, we’re going to designate J.P., our franchise player for the New York Giants,” he says. “Well. that’s all great until he blows his finger off, Fourth of July.”
Rosenberger said social media has been the jet fuel of fans’ year-round demand for all things NFL. Even when there’s bad news, there’s just more to talk about, according to Mike Lewis, who teaches marketing at Emory University.
“To some extent, the bad news is part of their success,” Lewis says, “because when something goes wrong, if it’s associated with the NFL, this becomes a major media story.”
For example, the NFL’s concussion crisis. The league is paying hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits by 5,000 former players who say the league covered up the danger from concussions. That hasn’t put a dent in the sport. Yet.
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