If you’re a sports fan, you often find yourself watching the NFL on Sundays and various major sports such as the NBA, NHL, MLB throughout the week. Both the NFL and the NBA, have extended highlights being played through various social media and sports websites.
But does Parity exist for these sports?
The NBA has done a great job giving fans the best product possible. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the same teams have appeared every year in the playoffs. The game has been dominated by the likes of Lebron James, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westbrook, among others. This format has produced some memorable finals, with the most recent memory being the Cleveland Cavaliers winning a title against the Golden State Warriors after being down three games to one. $100 Million guaranteed contracts are being signed by the most talented NBA players, but why can’t the NFL do this? They can, but won’t for a few reasons…
The NFL’s model is to sell one thing…Hope. After the NFL season ends, the league transitions into players leaving their old teams to join new ones, college stars join NFL rosters, and off season programs ramp up with training camp and preseason games. Ultimately every team starts the season with one thing; Hope.
Enter the Minnesota Vikings; who like the other 31 teams will start the season 0-0. The record 0-0 still signifies your team has a chance at the title. As the season ramps up, the numbers in each of those columns alert a fan base to the reality of that title shot.
The NFL doesn’t have the flexibility the NBA has. Players in the NBA have started to determine what the league will be. Super teams have been created for long-term dominance, and in the NFL, the elite quarterback is the only model comparable with long-term success.
The defensive model the Vikings currently have will likely be short lived. Per Jayson Brown’s article Defense Wins “Since 1997, 14 defenses have extended streaks of holding opponents under 310 points beyond two seasons.”
A high collision sport like football is bound to produce a high number of injuries. Per Pro Football Logic 49% of all players are injured at some point during the season, and 38% will miss at least one game due to injury. With a high injury rate, teams should be cautious about big contracts, with guaranteed money on long term deals. This would also explain why the NFL is hesitant to pay running backs as they have a 5.2% injury rate per game.
The Luxury tax most sports organizations pay would be an issue, but owners can easily get around this by paying players a smaller salary. Smaller contracts, and roster limitations are a few ways the NFL can get around this problem.
The NFL can stand on its own because it sells Hope in a way no other sport can. Even after a disappointing 8-8 season the Minnesota Vikings can still rely on one thing: Hope.