NO pastime unites America like the National Football League (NFL). During the 2013 autumn season, 34 of the 35 most-watched shows on television were NFL games. Though non-Americans may puzzle over the game’s allure, football offers advertisers one of the last chances to reach huge, real-time audiences. Unlike golf (whose fans tend to be old, white and well-off), or NASCAR racing (whose fanbase lies in the white South), football spans racial, class and partisan divides. It is all the more striking, then, that football finds itself mired in so many divisive debates.
On September 8th Ray Rice, a running back, was fired by the Baltimore Ravens and dropped indefinitely by the NFL after video footage emerged showing him punching his future wife unconscious in a casino lift. Mr Rice had initially received only a two-game suspension after being indicted in March for the assault (charges were suspended after he agreed to counselling). The NFL has hired a former FBI director to probe allegations that it knew of the damning footage earlier than it...Continue reading