How to virtually end the NFL injury epidemic

Yesterday I sent this tweet: “Look at the NFL injury report and then justify being a fan of the league’s product. That league should end.” Here is a summary of this week’s injuries, if you’re interested (beware the autoplay). I don’t think the NFL will ever go away, but below I offer a solution that will virtually remove all serious injuries from a game I actually like.

My tweet didn’t elicit much response, but not very many (of my) tweets do. However, an old friend of mine (maybe trolling), suggested that my tweet implied that we should also ban cars because more people are hurt in auto accidents than tear their ACLs in football games. This is not a good argument. My problem with the NFL is partly the profit that is generated by selling the athletes’ skills to consumers of the league’s product, and what seems like lip service from the league to the risk the players are taking. Nobody is selling my driving ability. The analogy might work better for auto racing, and it would be interesting to see a comparison of injuries between the NFL and NASCAR, and some analysis of how serious the leagues are in protecting their employees on the field and track. (more…)

NCAA football coach salaries in context

A year or so ago, I posted about how hard it is for me to enjoy football these days. Part of my argument was Urban Meyer’s $4 million a year salary from The Ohio State University. It’s obscene for an institution of higher ed to make its football coach the highest paid state employee. Urban Meyer isn’t the only case of a very highly paid football coach, of course. The Deadspin infographic linked to above, constant news about rising college costs and student debt, as well as news about stagnant middle and working class wages made me wonder how college football coach salaries compare to typical salaries and costs of middle and working class life.

So, here’s what I did. I found the salaries of the top 10 highest paid college football coaches, and used to get tuition and financial aid data for the top 10 schools (I had to use for the University of Louisville). Then I used Current Population Survey data from the Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder to find median household income estimates for the cities the universities are located in, and I found the Economic Policy Institute’s Basic Family Budget estimate for each location (I had to use Oklahoma City for the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State).

With these data I estimated 4 ratios. I calculated the ratio of ‘coach’s salary to tuition’ (in state for the 9 public schools on the list), the ratio of ‘coach’s salary to average financial aid award,’ ‘coach’s salary to median household income,’ and ‘coach’s salary to basic family budget.

As you can see, these coaches are well paid by any of these measures. It turns out that Urban Meyer (who really turned me off of football when he got his contract) isn’t the worst offender. I mean, you’d think Mack Brown might win something given his wonderful rewards. That’s the way it works, right? These 10 highest paid coaches make anywhere from 69 times (TCU’s Gary Patterson) to 164 times (Alabama’s Nick Saban) median household income in their communities, and from 95 to 597 times their institution’s tuition and fees (Patterson and Saban again). Obviously I could look into this for more than the top 10, but the top 25 highest paid coaches all make at least $2.5 million a year so I wouldn’t expect it to be much different. Some of these top 25, for example, are in small, relatively downtrodden Midwest towns with relatively low costs of living and low pay. Their ratios might be more extreme.

Here is the table of raw data:

Coach School Location Salary Tuition & Fees Avg Fin Aid Median HH Income EPI BFB
Nick Saban University of Alabama* Tuscaloosa, AL $5,650,000.00 $9,450.00 $11,479.00 $34,359.00 $61,004.00
Mack Brown University of Texas* Austin, TX $5,400,000.00 $9,790.00 $13,669.00 $52,453.00 $66,970.00
Bob Stoops University of Oklahoma* Norman,OK $4,600,000.00 $8,915.00 $11,837.00 $46,595.00 $58,852.00
Urban Meyer Ohio State* Columbus, OH $4,300,000.00 $10,037.00 $12,201.00 $43,348.00 $62,104.00
Les Miles LSU* Baton Rouge, LA $4,300,000.00 $7,880.00 $12,600.00 $37,381.00 $57,160.00
Kirk Ferentz University of Iowa* Iowa City, IA $3,900,000.00 $8,061.00 $12,603.00 $41,956.00 $66,677.00
Charlie Strong University of Louisville* Louisville, KY $3,700,000.00 $9,750.00 $11,720.00 $43,680.00 $61,630.00
Steve Spurrier University of South Carolina* Columbia, SC $3,600,000.00 $10,816.00 $12,340.00 $38,995.00 $59,431.00
Gary Patterson TCU Fort Worth, TX $3,500,000.00 $36,590.00 $21,669.00 $50,456.00 $64,587.00
Mike Gundy Oklahoma State* Stillwater, OK $3,300,000.00 $7,442.00 $12,558.00 $30,133.00 $58,852.00

Here is the table of ratios I calculated:

Coach School Location Salary/Tuition Salary/Fin Aid Salary/Med Inc Salary/BFB
Nick Saban University of Alabama* Tuscaloosa, AL 597.88 492.20 164.44 92.62
Mack Brown University of Texas* Austin, TX 551.58 395.05 102.95 80.63
Bob Stoops University of Oklahoma* Norman,OK 515.98 388.61 98.72 78.16
Urban Meyer Ohio State* Columbus, OH 428.41 352.43 99.20 69.24
Les Miles LSU* Baton Rouge, LA 545.69 341.27 115.03 75.23
Kirk Ferentz University of Iowa* Iowa City, IA 483.81 309.45 92.95 58.49
Charlie Strong University of Louisville* Louisville, KY 379.49 315.70 84.71 60.04
Steve Spurrier University of South Carolina* Columbia, SC 332.84 291.73 92.32 60.57
Gary Patterson TCU Fort Worth, TX 95.65 161.52 69.37 54.19
Mike Gundy Oklahoma State* Stillwater, OK 443.43 262.78 109.51 56.07

Any civil comments, concerns, or criticisms?

I don’t like football like I used to

For all but the sentimental, football is America’s pastime. America’s brutal, product-peddling, time-sucking pastime. I used to like football much more than I do now, and I can list a number of reasons why I don’t enjoy the game as much as I did even a few years ago.

More than anything else, I simply can’t sit there for three hours watching a game. It’s not because I always use the time to do other, more productive things. It’s mostly because the typical football game seems to be a boredom inducing stretch of commercials, penalties and ‘instant-replay reviews.’ Nearly every exciting moment of a contemporary college or pro-football game is immediately followed by 2 minutes of wondering if the play will stand. Even if the play is allowed, the Weberian rationalization of the game kills so much of its potential spontaneous fun that you wonder why anybody cheers for anything until they’ve been told by the appropriate authority that it’s time to do so. Also, anyone who has watched even the slightest bit of a televised game knows that you spend more time enduring commercials than enjoying game play; the same beer and car commercials over and over again. A Wall Street Journal study showed that a typical game broadcast carries 11 minutes of action. This isn’t only a problem for those watching on television either, as anyone who has attended a game and stood in silence with 80,000 others waiting for the TV-timeout to end can tell you. The Durkheimian effervescence of shared experience is quite thoroughly dampened in these moments as you sit there noticing that you are cold and ready to go home.