SBD/April 12, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Relaxes Video Board Rules To Encourage Crowd Noise

Teams will now be able to use video boards regardless of the time left on the play clock
The NFL has “decided to relax its rules about when the video board can be used to encourage crowd noise and therefore ‘create a more exciting, vibrant stadium experience at each home game,’” according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. The league’s eight-member Fan Experience Club Working Group, composed of team owners and execs, proposed “changes that have been approved by the business ventures and competition committees.” One is the home team at each game “will be permitted to use stadium audio to prompt the crowd until 20 seconds remain on the play clock.” The previous policy “required the use of stadium audio to be discontinued with 30 seconds left.” In addition, the home team at each game “will be permitted to use stadium video boards to prompt the crowd, regardless of the time left on the play clock” (LATIMES.com, 4/11). CBSSPORTS.com’s Clark Judge noted these changes come after earlier mandates to "show replays of all scoring plays, turnovers, fumbles, challenged calls, first downs and receptions where the receiver is out of bounds, as well as install video cameras (with no audio) within locker rooms.” It looks as if the league’s dilemma of fans preferring to watch the game at home is “about to change.” But Judge asked, "If the league sells 98 percent of its tickets ... and it does ... why change anything?” SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said the reasoning is the "trend line is downward." Ganis: "The NFL is focused on two things: 1) the number of people coming to the games, and what they're seeing is the trend line of actual fans in the seats is trending downward. Number two, (commissioner) Roger Goodell comes from the school of thought that if you're standing still you're losing ground. His approach is we always must be moving forward or we will fall backward.” Judge suggested that the NFL “might want to consult” the NFLPA, as the union “won't support the idea of cameras in locker rooms without first hearing from all of its players reps -- and that hasn't happened.” NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said, "The reality is that this already exists. Clubs have been doing this. We already do this in winning locker rooms, so this is not unique. What's unique is that everybody will do this in their own way” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/11).

RIGHT PLATFORM FOR ISSUE: A N.Y. TIMES editorial states Federal District Court Judge Anita Brody, who is considering whether a case against the NFL filed by retirees can move forward, should “allow the cases to proceed.” Though the retired players “would have to show that their injuries were not sustained in college or high school, they deserve the chance to prove in court that there is a link between the violent professional game and head trauma, and that the injuries occurred because the NFL breached a common-law duty to avoid this harm.” After “years of debate in the volatile court of public opinion, the place to address and resolve these serious and important charges is in a steady and independent court of law” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/12). CBS' Jason La Canfora said if people say they know how the concussion lawsuit will turn out, they are “lying to you.” La Canfora: “People who live and breathe this don’t. This is kind of unchartered territory in terms of professional sports. ... Football players walk into this sport knowing they’re taking certain risks. I guess the key question is, did the NFL know certain things and go out of their way to hide it, and then can that be proven in a court of law.” La Canfora speculated the longer the case stays in the courts, the "worse it is for the league.” The NFL is “pulling out all the stops to try to get this thrown out now and not let it enter the system” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 4/11).
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