Put the N.F.L. on Facebook

It’s time to put the National Football League on Facebook.  I don’t mean a “fan” page or anything like that; I mean actually running a video stream on Facebook.  It has to do with the commercials that populate the game.

I have been an on and off football fan; loving the strategy of the game but really disliking the violence.  In 2009 the hometown Rams won one game while losing fifteen.  Out of that lemon came the lemonade of having the first selection in the player draft and choosing Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.  There was a buzz before he was drafted and it continued throughout the season even though his final game on Jan. 2 will not be a featured one if he makes it to the Hall of Fame.

In order to understand why I want to put the N.F.L. on Facebook, I have to ’fess up and say that while I may not have classical A.D.D., I certainly have attention deficit in selected situations.  One of them is with commercials on televisions.

It’s possible that one of the five most significant days in my life was the one when my nephew introduced me to TiVo.  Television without commercials; what could be cooler.  On top of that, you could watch programs when they are convenient for you rather than having some network “voice of authority” tell you to stay home on Thursday night or else you’ll miss “must-see TV.”

I went to the Rams first game of the season, a good one although a losing effort against the Arizona (one-time St. Louis) Cardinals.  I lasted a little more than a quarter and then took advantage of the fact that there normally is not a rush out the doors in the beginning of the second quarter, so it was easy to get back to my car and back home.

Maybe it’s because I’m of an age that I grew up playing “disorganized” sports.  There weren’t always coaches filling the space, often with hot air.  We just played, and played, and played.  Okay, sometime we took a break and went to a gas station where the soda machine provided us with the necessary if not nutritious refreshment.

Watching an NFL game reminds me of what it must have been like to drive down a dusty road in a Model-T with a bad carburetor.  When are we ever going to get there?  Why do we always have to stop?  I want my hay-burner (horse) back.

So while I was at the Jones Dome I was spared the commercials but not the interminable delays.  It got to the point where I didn’t want either team to score; didn’t want any fumbles or interceptions; didn’t want anything to happen that would cause a stop in play which would result in five minutes with nothing to do but listen to the drunk people behind me.

So for the rest of the season I watched the games on TV.  I should say that I took a 210 minute event and condensed it into 75-90 minutes with the help of my friend TiVo.  It was terrific; there was a flow to the game and I could enjoy the strategy in real time.

When the last game of the season came around, the Rams were in much better shape than most anyone had predicted because (a) they had won more games than expected (7), and (b) they were in the worst division in the history of N.F.L. and had a chance to make the playoffs.  The game was being telecast on NBC with good announcers, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.  I wanted to see it as it happens.  If a friend called and said, “Did you see that play?” I didn’t want to be a quarter and a half behind but catching up on my TiVo.

Now the Rams lost the game, looked bad in doing so, and they are not in the playoffs.  But the worst part for me was dealing with the commercials.  The “chic liberal” part of me has a Prius; I don’t need to have macho dudes with barely clad women telling me to buy a Ford F-150 truck or a Lexus which is a very expensive way to get from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B.’ And of course football has the perfect cocktail; trying to sell you vehicles and booze at the same time.  It’s endless.  Due to a combination of morbid curiosity about the commercial epidemic and engagement in the game which was close for fifty-eight minutes of play, I stayed with it.

The next day I see something that may appear to be unrelated but I look for the possible connection.  Investment giant (and moral virtuoso) Goldman-Sachs has valued Facebook at over $50 billion and wants a piece of the action.  How can that be; Facebook doesn’t have pop-up ads with Ford F-150s flying out of the screen into my face?  How can they be worth anything; how can they make any money?

It was well-explained to me that evening on the News Hour by Andrew Ross Sorkin, one of the writers of that morning’s article in the New York Times on the Goldman – Facebook flirtation.  Facebook makes a fortune the way in which Google does; through advertisements on the right side of the screen that are not obtrusive.  The beauty of it is that I have the choice of looking at it or not doing so.  I get a certain pleasure in seeing Sarah Steelman’s face on the right side of the page, knowing that she is spending money to NOT get my attention.

Now Facebook has video, plenty of it.  So wouldn’t it be great if the N.F.L. games could be played on Facebook in real time.  At any occasion I could look at the right side to see if somebody wanted to sell me a new external hard drive because Mark Zuckerberg knows that I like computers.  I’m fine with that.  The N.F.L. can exist; make a ton of money; and add the audience of people like me who have borderline A.D.D.

Good idea or not, it probably won’t happen, at least not next year.  You see the billionaire owners and the millionaire players seem to be hell-bent on having a work stoppage / strike over something that no one will remember once it’s settled.  But the good news is that they’ll have to rebuild their fan base.  Where are there more fans than on Facebook?