*Bear with me because this should have been written a few weeks ago. The NFL draft is the biggest non-event in professional sports but somehow the NFL has figured out a way to get people to pay for it.
Really the idea of any draft being publicized is a sham designed to get fans excited about some vague possibility that is a disappointment as often as not. But the NFL has taken this hoax to another level. Not only do they televise the draft, which means ESPN is getting ad revenue from it, which means they are paying the NFL for the privilege to broadcast it; but they also sell tickets to fans to attend the draft in person.
First consider that the average NFL fan is not knowledgeable about college football. The seasons run parallel to one another and the people who attend the draft are the people so invested in an NFL team that they aren’t spending their time following college football with any depth. They basically know a few top name players from a few top name schools. This is how every year fans boo players who turn out to be extremely durable and successful professional athletes.
Furthermore I would venture to guess that most NFL fans are not that knowledgeable about football in general. Sure we all know the point is to score a touchdown on offense but given the playbook of their favorite NFL team and most fans would be lost. So even when they know the player, fans can’t really say whether the player will be successful in the type of system their favorite team employs. Essentially they are wasting their time watching or attending the draft because there is no real basis for their reactions. Truth be told even the people who earn a living evaluating college players are basically making educated guess and get things wrong just as much as they get things right.
The NFL draft is taking the brunt of my criticism because it just happened. But the NBA deserves the same treatment when it comes to their draft. MLB does not attempt to monetize their draft. This is probably because there is the understanding that most of the players taken will never make it to the major league club, or perhaps it is because there are 40 rounds. The bottom line is fans have been duped into thinking that these drafts are anything but guesswork.
I recognize that the NFL has a right to make money any way they can. And if people are willing to pay for the privilege to listen to the commissioner read names and shake hands, so be it; No one is being harmed by this. And of course there is the element of hope that every draft provides – that universal human emotion that allows us to push ahead even under adverse circumstances.
I guess I’m just jealous that I haven’t figured out a way for people to pay me for the best cake in the world even though I’m really just giving them flour.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.