My 13 New Year's resolutions for the NFL

On the heels of my own list of New Year's resolutions comes my proposed resolutions for the National Football League.

There are many serious issues that the NFL needs to address. This list does not touch upon the more complex and serious issues facing the NFL but seeks only to increase a fan's enjoyment of the game.

Most of these proposals are relatively simple to adopt and should be implemented immediately.   

  1. Digitize NFL tickets. The fact that NFL ticket holders must possess a physical ticket on game day in order to gain access to the stadium is ridiculous. 
  2. Play at least one NFL game on Christmas Day regardless of the day of the week. 
  3. Play at least one NFL game on New Year's Day regardless of the day of the week.
  4. Broadcast two 1:00 games and two 4:00 games every Sunday without exception. Why this isn't happening already is beyond me. 
  5. Increase the height of the goal post by at least 20 feet. Someday soon, an important playoff game will be decided by a questionable field goal that is kicked higher than the current goal posts and will be misjudged by the referees. Field goal kicks above the posts are also not reviewable. 
  6. Expand NFL rosters by at least 10 players. Injuries play too important a role in the fates of NFL teams. Mitigate this impact as much as possible with expanded rosters.  
  7. Build a tunnel under Route 1 or a foot bridge over Route 1 adjacent to Gillette Stadium in at least three locations so pedestrians from the parking lots can cross the road without having to stop traffic. (Apologies. I know this is very New England Patriots specific).
  8. Allow NFL fans to vote out one NFL commentator per year if he or she receives at least 25% of the vote.
  9. Cease all mention of the preempting of 60 Minutes during the 4:00 CBS telecast. NO ONE IS EVER WONDERING WHY 60 MINUTES HASN'T STARTED.
  10. Cease all commercial breaks immediately following a kickoff.  
  11. Cease all indoor football games. Football is meant to be played outdoors. If they can play football outdoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it can play it anywhere. 
  12. Modify the pass interference penalty. Pass interference penalties shall no longer be spot fouls. The subjective nature of this penalty too often flips the field and completely changes the game based upon the opinion of a referee. Pass interference should be penalized as half the distance of the intended pass with a minimum of 10 yards and an automatic first down.
  13. Offer Super Bowl tickets to the fans of the Super Bowl teams first.

A whiskey ad, made by two amateur filmmakers, did this to me.

Every now and then I run into something that zeros in on my eternal flaw - my inner crack - and tears it wide open. This ad will hang on me like an old coat for weeks. Look closely and you may see tears in my eyes at any moment until sometime in 2016.

It's fine. Don't worry. Just an indescribable, overwhelming, ever-present existential crisis. 

This time that thing was a Johnnie Walker ad made by two film students.

Who is watching these political ads?

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that nearly $4 billion will be spent on television advertising for the 2014 midterm elections, up from $3.6 billion in 2010. 


My question:

Who is watching these ads?

We’re about two weeks from Election Day, and I have yet to see a single political ad on television. I suspect the same goes for my wife. Granted, we don’t watch much television, but even if you’re among the zombie class of average Americans who watch 6-8 hours of television a day, who isn’t time-shifting their television viewing in order to avoid commercials? More than 70% of American households own a DVR.

People don’t actually watch live television anymore. Do they?

Even if Elysha and I plan to watch a television show on the night that it actually airs, we wait 20 minutes before turning it on so we can bypass the commercials. And if it’s a show on HBO or Netflix or OnDemand, there are no commercials.

Where are people encountering these commercials?

While I’m sure that the viewing habits of every American does not match my own, I can’t imagine that enough people watch television live to warrant spending $4 billion dollars on television ads.

And if I’m wrong, what the hell is wrong with you people? Why are you wasting time watching commercial television? 

So I’m serious. Is anyone actually seeing these political commercials?

This is real, despite all my instincts telling me otherwise.

The restaurant is real. It’s existence was never in question. It’s located in Staten Island, and people eat there every day.


But sometimes you stumble across (or in the case are sent) a video that you have to assume is fake. A parody. An intentionally ridiculous fabrication.

Except no. This commercial for Troy restaurant is real. Someone, somewhere in the world produced this video, watched it, and thought, “Yes, this will surely bring the restaurant more customers.”

Who knows? Maybe it worked. But I doubt it.

The ad has good intentions, but it doesn’t depict reality, and that could be more damaging to girls than no ad at all.

This new Verizon-sponsored ad, which was made in conjunction with Makers to show how parents unintentionally steer their daughters away from science and math, is receiving a lot of praise for the way it doesn’t focus solely on female body and beauty issues, as well as its willingness to shine the light on the role that parents play in the problem. 

Amanda Marcotte of Slate calls it a “blast of refreshing cool air.”

I understand why critics like the ad so much, but here’s my problem with it:

Are there really parents in the world as sexist and stupid as the ones depicted in the commercial?

I’m not sure. If there are parents like this, they are hardly in the majority. 

There are four incidents depicted in the commercial during which the girl is supposedly steered away from science.

First, while hiking up a mountain and through a stream while wearing rubber boots, her mother says, “Sammy, don’t get your dress dirty.”

On a hike? Up a mountain? In a stream? Is there some fine dining establishment at the summit with a strict dress code? Is this rocky, mountain trail also the path to Sammy’s kindergarten graduation?

Next, a slightly older Sammy is standing in a tidal pool, holding a starfish. Dad says, “You don’t want to mess with that. Why don’t you put it down.”

A starfish? Not an angry crab. Not a potentially poisonous sea urchin. Perhaps the most defenseless creature on the entire planet: A starfish.

Next, Sammy is hanging spheres decorated as planets over her bed. Her mother pokes her head into her bedroom and says, “This project has gotten out of control.”

Perhaps it’s the use of glitter, which should be banned from the Earth, that has gotten her mother’s knickers in a bunch. I could understand this concern. I’d even be willing to support the mother’s discontent. But other than the possible overuse of glitter, what exactly has “gotten out of control?” Was Sammy’s mother thinking that her solar system would consist of just eight planets, but Sammy foolishly made thirteen?

The last example is the worst. Teenage Sammy is drilling a screw into a model rocket while her older brother looks on. Dad shouts, “Whoa. Be careful with that (drill). Why don’t you hand it to your brother.”

Not a table saw. Not a weaponized laser beam. Not a nail gun. A drill.

I’m not saying that girls can’t use table saws, weaponized laser beams, or nail guns, but as a parent, I can understand the concern for any teenager (or me) using these tools. But a drill is one step removed from an egg beater. It’s one of the most benign of all the power tools. What damage could Sammy possibly do with a drill?

I believe that parents play a role in a girl’s decisions to turn away from science and math. I just don’t believe that it’s typically (or ever) done in such ham-handed, overtly sexist ways as depicted in this commercial. 

Most important, unrealistic and exaggerated ads like this make it too easy for parents to watch them and think, “I’d never do anything like that,” while ignoring the more subtle signals that we send to our girls everyday.

When we show parents the worst examples of parenting, we offer them the opportunity to feel good about themselves and their own parenting, when in truth, they may be just as guilty of the same kinds of behavior that this ad depicts, only in more subtle and realistic forms.  


SportsCenter anchor? No big deal. Actor in a 30 second commercial? AWE INSPIRING.

My friend, Bram Weinstein, is an ESPN anchor. When I first met him, I stood in awe of his occupation and talent.


This is understandable. There was a time in my life when I wore a SportsCenter hat like others wear hats denoting their favorite sports teams. 

I was a SportsCenter junkie.

But over the years, as I’ve gotten to know Bram better, the celebrity-status that I once assigned to the SportsCenter anchor has begun to wane.

I’ve come to realize that despite his occupation, he’s just Bram. Sure, he’s excellent at his job, and yes, he has the opportunity to spend time with the greatest athletes in the world.

But I’ve also seen Bram eat birthday cake. Change a diaper. Shank a tee shot. Play princess with his daughter. Wash the dishes. Dance with his son in his arms.

Sadly, the bloom is off the rose when it comes to ESPN anchors. It turns out that they are just regular people.

The only exception to this rule is when Bram does a “This is SportsCenter” commercial. His second commercial aired this week, and for at least a while, he has once again ascended to celebrity status in my mind.

I’ve been watching these commercials for years. Writing and direction my own versions of these commercials in my head. Dreaming of the day when I could make a “This is SportsCenter” commercial of my own. 

To think that Bram is immortalized in another one of these iconic advertisements is amazing. Unbelievable. Awe inspiring.

At least for now.

Advertising goes both ways.

My daughter didn’t see a commercial until she was almost three years old. Though we thought this moratorium was a good idea, it turns out that she is now completely susceptible to advertising.

She’s once asked Elysha what stain remover she uses and was dissatisfied with the answer.


She still doesn’t watch very much commercial television, but when she does, she wants just about everything that she sees on the commercials (though thankfully she doesn’t seem to form any lasting attachments to any of it yet).

But it’s not all bad.

Today she saw a commercial for Chuck E. Cheese. I braced for the request. It didn’t come.


I got curious. I thought for sure that she would enchanted with the images presented on the television.  “Do you think we should go to Chuck E. Cheese someday?” I asked.

“Someday,” she said. “But the kids in that commercial are all look older than me, so it must be a place for big kids.”

That commercial just spared me at least a year of Chuck E. Cheese visits.

Advertising isn’t all bad.

Apple’s “Misunderstood” is brilliant and completely unrealistic

Even though I saw the ending coming a mile away, I thought this commercial was incredibly clever. Sweet, even.

Also completely unrealistic.

Every time I see someone with their head buried in their phone, they are texting or playing that stupid Candy Crush game.

Sadly, no one is ever creating. 

Admittedly, I have never played Candy Crush, but I think stupid is a more than safe assumption.


Gender equality doesn’t always make good business sense

I’ve recently been debating a friend over the new Carter’s children’s clothing commercials that feature the tagline, “When a child is born, so is a mom.”

She argues on her blog:

I’m more than just a little bit curious. When a child is born, only a mom is born? Only a mom? I turned to my husband and said, “I thought when a child was born, that’s when you became a dad.” He nodded in approval mostly to appease me because he knows tag lines that deprecate fathers (and parents of all kinds) annoy me.  This sort of emotional pandering by just about every company out there exhausts and infuriates me. I’m just getting over the P&G Summer Olympics campaign that basically credited only moms with the success of Olympic athletes.  What about the fathers?  Better yet, why not credit parents in general and not just mothers?

As a father, I recognize the fact that when my daughter was born, I also became a father, but the Carter’s commercial is merely an attempt by a corporation to maximize their ad revenue.

As I explained to my friend, more than 95% of Carter’s purchases are made by women, so their new ad campaign targets mothers for good reason. They are appealing to their primary consumer. If I were a stockholder in Carter’s, I would be pleased with this targeting of ad revenue.

My friend has argued that perhaps Carter’s should also be interested in expanding its customer base, but here is where I disagree with her completely. If Carter’s somehow managed to create an ad that convinced fathers that they should play a larger role in the purchasing of children’s clothing, revenues for the company would not increase. Only the face of the customer would change. It’s not as if parents would suddenly require more children’s clothing, nor would they be willing to expand their clothing budgets to accommodate Dad’s newfound love for purchasing rompers. Fathers would simply begin spending a larger portion of the clothing budget, yielding no additional sales for Carter’s.

In fact, one might argue that forcing this shift from female dominated purchasing to a more equitable model might decrease sales, as I know many fathers who would be willing to put their infant in a simple onesie and call it a day. While I don’t have any data to support this assertion, I’m fairly certain that if given the choice, Carter’s would prefer that mothers do the majority of the shopping, as they are more likely to spend more on their children's clothing.

Not to mention the impact that a shift in purchasing would have on mothers. While many mothers might assert that they would be perfectly willing to trust the clothing shopping to their husbands, I do not believe this for a second. Women enjoy shopping for their children’s clothing. It’s a right of passage for mothers. As children, women spent years dressing dolls in an endless array of outfits, preparing for the day when this fantasy might become a reality. For the vast majority of mothers in the world, the idea that their husband might take over the purchasing of their children’s clothing, and especially their infant and toddler’s clothing, would horrify them.

Carter’s commercials make sense. They seek to maximize profit, which is what every stockholder wants from its company. Carter’s has no obligation to ensure that fathers feel good about their roles as parents and is not required to portray fathers in an equally glowing light. Their job is to sell clothing by driving customers into their stores, so they created ads that would appeal to the vast majority of their potential consumers. Increasing the number of male consumers in their stores would not yield increased revenue. Instead, they must find ways to bring women into their store who might otherwise shop at Target, Walmart and the like. 

The exclusion of fathers from these commercials may hurt our feelings, but this would only be the case if we cared about such things.

Most of us don’t.

And since fathers rarely purchase children’s clothing, most of us don’t even notice these commercials when they air.

The only people watching Carter’s commercials are the people who Carter’s wants watching them: Moms.