November 13, 2017

Veteran Yahoo Sports Writer Denies Decline, Thinks NFL ‘Attendance’ Is Who ‘Showed Up’

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 3:23 pm

Jay Busbee has been a “writer for Yahoo Sports since 2008″ who “has covered the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, the Masters, the Indianapolis 500, the Kentucky Derby, the Final Four, NBA, NCAA football, and the MLB playoffs.” It’s hard to believe that someone with this level of experience can actually believe that reported “attendance” at National Football League games represents the number of people who actually “showed up” at the games. But he does, and he used that ignorance early Sunday evening to argue that attendance increased at Sunday’s early NFL games.

As seen in an item from November 1, Busbee also sees himself as an expert on business who somehow knows more than the Chairman of Papa John’s about the cause of that company’s faltering sales growth:

Papa John’s blames NFL protests for declining pizza sales

Here’s a new one: Papa John’s declining pizza sales apparently aren’t the result of Americans looking to eat healthier, or the rise of on-demand food competition like Uber Eats, or too many options for eating out, or just simple dissatisfaction with the pies that Papa John’s itself puts out. No, if you believe the pizza chain’s founder John Schnatter, the reason for Papa John’s declining sales is … the NFL protests and commissioner Roger Goodell‘s leadership.

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said on a conference call announcing third-quarter earnings. “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

“It’s the NFL’s fault” makes for an easy populist appeal — opponents of the protests, regardless of their true number, are extraordinarily vocal online, and Schnatter will certainly get plenty of praise for his anti-NFL stance. But it’s also an approach that has long-term risks; companies in industries all across the economic spectrum are facing disruption from unexpected angles.

“Don’t blame us, it’s somebody else’s fault,” while popular these days, isn’t an excuse that shareholders will put up with for very long.

Busbee somehow forgot to note that Papa John’s is particularly vulnerable to the ire of fans disgusted with NFL players’ behavior because it’s the NFL’s Official Pizza Sponsor. Because of current circumstances, the company has recently been “airing ads that don’t feature the NFL logo or note that Papa John’s is the official pizza of the NFL.” Additionally, Busbee, unlike Papa John’s Schnatter, who runs a publicly held company, doesn’t have the Securities and Exchange Commission looking over his shoulder monitoring the truth of what he says on earnings calls and what the company claims in its financial statements.

Instead of engaging in armchair business analysis, Busbee would be well-advised to learn more about the sports he covers. That might have prevented him from filing yesterday’s breathtakingly obtuse post about Sunday’s NFL attendance. Busbee makes his ignorance crystal clear in the final excerpted sentence below:

Despite threat of boycott, attendance increases at Sunday NFL games

Fans angry with the NFL and its protesting players called for a boycott on Veterans Day weekend. But other fans showed up to Sunday’s games, and in greater numbers than they had averaged all season.

NFL players protesting during the national anthem have drawn the ire of a significant segment of the fanbase, upset at what they believe is disrespect for the flag and military members’ sacrifice. Almost half, 49 percent, of respondents in a recent poll said they believed the protests were disrespectful to the flag. Many fans have said they would boycott the NFL, and loosely organized movements on Twitter and Facebook sought to flex patriotic muscle by boycotting the entire slate of games this holiday weekend.

However, the numbers don’t indicate that any boycotts, if indeed they happened, had a meaningful numerical effect. In fact, total attendance at the eight early games on Sunday, as reported by the NFL, was up about 1 percent over season averages. Here’s the breakdown, with averages prior to Sunday’s games.

• Buffalo: Average 68,944; Sunday: 67,501

• Chicago: Average 61,779; Sunday: 61,285
• Jacksonville: Average 59,553; Sunday: 67,164
• Detroit: Average 63,367; Sunday: 64,646
• Indy: Average 63,801; Sunday: 66,146
• Tennessee: Average 67,356; Sunday: 67,432
• Tampa: Average 60,894; Sunday: 57,911
• Washington: Average: 77,451; Sunday: 74,476

Four of eight games were up over seasonal averages, with only Tampa Bay and Washington showing significant decreases. (Chicago’s attendance was down less than 500 from the season average.) The NFL’s attendance figures reflect actual turnstile count, not tickets distributed.

Sorry, Jay. The NFL’s attendance figures reflect tickets distributed. They do not reflect actual turnstile count. This has been the case for decades.

As I noted in a late-October NewsBusters post, experienced sports scribes know this, as seen in this excerpt from a 2006 dispatch by a Florida sports reporter:

Not What You Think

As Long As A Ticket Is Paid For, Teams Count It For A Game’s Attendance. Whether Fans Actually Show Up And Fill The Seats Doesn’t Change That.

… The (Miami Dolphins home) game (that week) was declared a sellout and was televised across South Florida with an announced crowd of 72,733, but with several pockets of empty seats the attendance appeared to be closer to 60,000.

… across professional sports “attendance” hasn’t meant the number of bodies in the stadium or arena for some time.

Let’s look at Busbee’s attendance figures, and compare four which had very high reported attendance to actual photos taken at the games:

NFLearlyGamesWeek10Attendance

First, here’s Green Bay at Chicago, which Busbee wants readers to believe was 99.7 percent full (reported attendance ties to box scores found at FoxSports.com; stadium capacities were found here; click on photos to see larger images in a separate tab or window):

GB@CGOcrowd111217

Jay Busbee, misinterpreting the NFL’s attendance figures, is absurdly claiming there were only 215 empty seats at this historical rivalry game.

Here is Pittsburgh at Indianapolis, which Busbee wants readers to believe was 98.7 percent full:

PIT@INDcrowd111217

Jay Busbee mistakenly thinks there were only 854 empty seats at this game.

Here is Cincinnati at Tennessee, which Busbee wants readers to believe was 97.5 percent full:

CIN@TENcrowd111217

Finally, here’s New Orleans at Buffalo, which Busbee wants readers to believe was 94.3 percent full:

NO@BUFcrowd111217

Busbee’s post qualifies as fake news, and is an utter waste of readers’ time and attention.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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