Brooks Robinson

Sports Idols

It was easy having sports figures as childhood heroes growing up in Baltimore. At various times as a kid, depending on the season, I was Frank Robinson at the plate, Brooks Robinson at third, and Paul Blair in the outfield. I was Johnny Unitas in my front yard throwing at bushes. Playing catch, I was Lenny Moore flanking out wide or Raymond Berry making a tip-toe sideline catch. During basketball season, as much as I wanted to be Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, because I was the tallest kid on the block, I was always Wes Unseld, trying to perfect the two-hand overhead outlet pass.

Because of my job, I’ve been lucky to meet all of my boyhood heroes. I’ve had a chance to shake their hands and tell them what a positive impact they had on my life as a kid. I caught Chuck Thompson, the Orioles play-by-play announcer in the Baltimore dugout during the ’83 World Series and told him he always made that job sound like fun. I stopped Joe Namath in the lobby at the Marriott at Sawgrass. Even luckier, I was never disappointed by any of them, even sharing a laugh with Namath that he became my idol despite beating the Colts in Super Bowl III.

“Having a hero means you have somebody to look up to and to emulate,” Frank Palmieri, a professional psychotherapist and counselor explained this week. “A lot of times kids are so young they haven’t figured out that they have parents who could be their heroes.”

Palmieri, who idolized the Yankee’s Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford as a kid, also said its easy to have sports heroes when you’re young because they’re removed from reality.

“They’re not making me go to bed, eat my vegetables, and they’re not disciplining me. So, it’s easy to idolize them,” he said.

Having sports heroes as a kid was just a part of life to most of my friends. But when I asked about that this week, I got several different answers. They’ve never met their heroes and sometimes, their heroes showed to be flawed, on and off the field.

“I wanted to be Stan the Man,” Pedro said immediately referencing the St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial when I asked about his childhood idols. “He was a lefthanded hitting first baseman and I was a lefthanded hitting first baseman, I was going to the Majors to be Stan the Man.”

I knew I was sad when Frank Robinson died two years ago and asked Pedro if he felt the same when Musial died in 2013.

“I was sad, but I thought about what a great life he had,” Pedro said. “But honestly, I thought back to how upset I was as a kid when they moved him from third to sixth in the lineup at the end of his career.”

Palmieri laughed when I told him that story.

“You might be able to figure that out when you’re twenty or thirty, like why they moved Mickey (Mantle) to first base. They did the same thing to DiMaggio, and he didn’t like it,” he said. “But you can’t figure that out as a kid. You don’t realize that they probably extended their careers a few years by doing that. You don’t have the depth of experience.”

“When Yogi and Whitey died, I was sad. But I thought about it as an adult, and I was so glad that I got a chance to see those guys play. They were great examples of excellence at what they were doing.”

When sports idols fall from grace, it can take some sorting out as an adult to take them off that pedestal and bring them down to earth, flawed, like everybody else.

“O.J. was my guy,” my friend Mike said when I asked about his boyhood idols. “I wanted to be O.J. I was a running back, I wanted to wear #32. I tried to be just like him.”

“What did you think when he was on trial for murder?” I asked.

“I just thought, ‘How can you be that kooky?’’ he answered. “I just wanted to say to him, ‘Man, how could you act like that?’”

When Pete Rose got into trouble and was banned from baseball, my friend Billie had to take some time to sort that out.

“I was all about Pete Rose,” he said. “I wanted to hustle like him, play like him. When he got into trouble, I was an adult and I defended him for a while. But as I worked through it, I thought, ‘Hey, that was wrong,’ and I stopped defending him.”

“It’s a positive thing, even into adulthood. Especially when you’re emulating somebody who doesn’t fall from grace,” Palmieri noted about having a sports idol.

“I looked at Mickey in my work and I was able to say professionally he had a problem. Mickey even said, ‘Don’t be like me,’ at the end of his life, realizing that he had his own failings. You see them as human beings, having the same faults and failings that you might have.”

Being on the other side of the equation can be just as baffling. Just ask former University of Georgia and NFL quarterback Matt Robinson. Being the quarterback of the New York Jets right after Joe Namath, brought a level of celebrity that carries on to this day.

“My brother was sitting in a bar in Montana a few years ago and heard a couple of guys talking about me down at the other end,” Robinson explained. “He walked over and introduced himself and tells them he’s my brother. The guy said, ‘My dad is such a big Jets fan he named me and my brothers after Jets quarterbacks. I’m Matt.’ My brother is absolutely dumbfounded and gets me on the phone. I talk to the guy, and eventually I talked to his dad. I still have his number.”

So, what’s that like when you’re such an idol that people are willing to name their kids after you?

“It was flattering, and sometimes I would chuckle because I never thought of myself in that way,” Matt explained. “But it was also a reminder that you never know who, or when somebody’s watching you and knows who you are.”

When I first met my friend Brooks more than thirty years ago, I casually asked him if he was named after Brooks Robinson.

“I am,” he said with a laugh, explaining that he was asked that pretty often. “My parents lived in Maryland before they moved to Jacksonville Beach. My dad was a big sports guy and quite an athlete. I was the only one of three brothers who played sports, so they gave the right name to the right son.”

Brooks said he didn’t feel any special responsibility to Robinson but did get to meet him at a golf tournament in Ft. Meyers a few years ago.

“I followed Brooks when I was young, but I played first and he played third,” he said. “I did think as an adult it was unique that he played for one team. You don’t see that much anymore. When I got to meet him and told him I was named after him he couldn’t have been nicer. He asked, ‘Do I know your family?’ with a smile. We had a few laughs and he insisted we have a picture made together.”

In the ‘90’s Brooks Robinson was in town for a book signing in Mandarin. I had arranged with his publisher and the store manager to be there to interview him when he was done for a story in that night’s sportscast.

The line was around the building when I got there, surprising since Brooks hadn’t played in twenty years. I walked to the signing desk and waited to the side for him to finish. Since it was before September 11th, there was no TSA checkpoint at the airport and while Brooks was signing he was asking the organizers how long it would take to drive to the airport to make his flight. He wanted to sign until the last second.

I had met him a few times before, but somebody must have prepped him as well because when he looked up, he said, “Hi Sam,” and went back to signing adding “We’ll only have a minute when I’m done, I hope that’s OK.”

“No problem,” I said.

There were still over a hundred people in line when Robinson, apologetic and disappointed he had to disappoint so many people, put his pen down and walked to the back of the store motioning for me and my photographer to follow.

He stopped at the door of the waiting car and answered a couple of questions politely, apologized and slid into the back seat. As he did, he noticed the Orioles hat I had in my hand. Without a word as the car started away, he grabbed it, closed the door and was headed to the airport.

I had a laugh about it with my photographer and the store manager and said something silly like, “Guess Brooks needed an Oriole hat!”

A few days later the manager called me to say she had received a package with my name on it. I went to the store to pick it up and when I opened it, there was my hat, signed by Brooks, with a note from him apologizing for having to “run off so quickly.” He also included a picture signed personally to me.

I often think about how I idolized Brooks when I was a kid and the formative impact, he and Frank and Wes and Johnny and Lenny had on me growing up.

Along the way I eventually realized I couldn’t hit like Brooks, and I might have been the half the fielder he was. But as an adult I’ve often thought I could still follow his example and be as kind and as gracious as he was that day.

I hope I never forget that.

Tim Tebow Jacksonville Jaguars 85

The Week

Usually this column writes itself as the week goes along. When I’m out people want to talk sports and generally everybody wants to talk about the same thing. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about living here. People like sports and they like to talk about it. And they have an opinion.

I’ve also learned that when people ask me “what do you think about such and such,” they really want to tell me what they think about a certain subject. Which is great.

This week was different though because people were all over the place talking about everything.

While the Tim Tebow story seemed like last week’s news, there were still a lot of fans who wanted to voice their opinion about that.

As expected, most weren’t sure about what he might do but knew enough about Tim and his background to have an opinion. And it always amazes me how pointed people are when it comes to talking about Tebow. He really raises people’s emotions one way or another.

One guy stopped me mid-week on the way to the first tee and told to me to advise the Jaguars not to sign Tebow.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Too much of a distraction,” he said.

When I referred to last week’s column where I wrote that Tim would bring Meyer’s ideas to the locker room and he might take some of the heat off of Trevor Lawrence he wasn’t buying it.

“Nah, he said, “Plus they took the wrong quarterback anyway,” he responded dismissively.

“I guess we’re done here,” I said, joking with his friends.

“He’s an Ohio State guy anyway,” his playing partner said, pointing to the “Buckeye” head cover on his driver.

Not taking Trevor Lawrence would have started some kind of insurrection here in town. Lawrence is a generational player who also seems to have all of the intangibles.

Watching him practice this week it’s obvious he’s deep into the Jaguars playbook already and has the physical talent to compete. Justin Fields might turn out to be a great player as well. He seems to have all of the tools. Even fans of “Runner-up U,” as Steve Spurrier dubbed the Buckeyes, know that. Plus I always think of Fields as a Georgia guy anyway. Kirby Smart just couldn’t see what he had at the time.

There was some mild talk about baseball this week and mostly about the number of no-hitters being thrown. Six so far this year, with the full-season record only being seven.

At least one pitcher, perennial Dodger All-Star and former Jacksonville Sun Clayton Kershaw, doesn’t think much of the lack of hitting. He thinks fans want to see more offense and said Major League Baseball ‘Missed the mark’ with whatever changes they made to the baseball in the off-season trying to cut down on the number of home runs.

“I do know that strikeouts are the same,” he said. “I think I saw some stats for April that it was the worst hitting month in the history of something. No-hitters are cool. I have all the respect in the world for Corey Kluber and Bum and all those guys that have thrown no-hitters. But to have one happen every night, it seems like it’s probably not good for the game. Fans want to see some hits.”

Kershaw is right, and former Major League catcher Rick Wilkins agrees.

“The way the game is played right now, it lends itself to exactly that,” he explained. “Hard-hit balls somewhere isn’t what’s being taught. Everybody’s talking about launch angle and uppercuts. You’ll see a lot of one-run or no-runs scored for a lot of teams.

“That oh-and-two swing is the same as that oh-and-oh swing,” former Jacksonville Suns owner Peter Bragan, Jr. agreed. “Nobody chokes up and just tries to put the ball in play anymore with two strikes. Agents have told them ‘moving runners over doesn’t get you paid, hitting home runs gets you paid.’”

Some people were fired up about the PGA Championship this week, the tournament moving to May and being played at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

But they couldn’t find it on television.

“Where’s the golf,” my friend Keith called to ask.

“It’s on ESPN+,” I told him.

“What’s that?” he asked

“Exactly,” I said with a laugh. “Nobody knows what it is or where it is.”

We’ve been so used to seeing early week or early round coverage on The Golf Channel or regular ESPN that to have to go find it wasn’t a good decision by the PGA of America.

Playing at Kiawah was a good call though. If only because most of the golf fans who wanted to talk about it this week were hoping for some tough conditions.

“I hope it blows like crazy there,” Keith added, having played the Ocean Course in tough conditions. “I hope they shoot a million,” he said.

That seemed to be the consensus and that’s changed a bit. Golf fans used to want to see lots of birdies and great playing but players have gotten so long, thanks to training and equipment, that par fives are nearly a thing of the past.

“I heard (Tony) Finau say he had to hit 4-iron into a couple of par 4’s at Kiawah and he hadn’t done that in a while,” my friend John said derisively. “Waah, Waah, Waah, cry me a river.”

Could it be that players have gotten so good that they’ve lost touch with some fans because the game they’re playing is so different?

“It sure elevates The Players,” my friend Pedro said about the PGA’s move to May. “The Players, The Masters, The PGA, The US Open, The Open all a month apart. Start calling The Players a Major,” he said with a smile.

And as the week came to a close, the conversation came back to Tim Tebow. Tebow signed a contract with the Jaguars and showed up at practice on Thursday wearing number eighty-five.

“He’ll have to show he at least belongs out there,” former Jaguars linebacker Tom McManus said on a podcast he and fellow Jaguars linebacker Lonnie Marts and I do occasionally. “He can’t go out there and fall on his face. I imagine he’ll do alright, he’s kept himself in good shape.”

“But he’ll have to earn it, and in the locker room too,” Marts added.

When I noted that Tim is familiar with the environment in an NFL locker room, Lonnie said that’ll be a factor.

“He knows how to act and what guys are like,” Marts said. “There’s guys who will say ‘he’s only here because he’s Urban’s guy’ and he’ll hear that. But if he runs and catches and studies and does what he normally does, he’ll earn their respect. And that’s important.”

One thing I saw that nobody mentioned was Travis Etienne’s combination of speed and quickness that he’s shown on the field in rookie camp and OTA’s. He’s the touchdown threat every time he touches the ball the Jaguars have been missing for a while.

If that pans out, now that would be something people would be talking about.

Trevor Lawrence Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor and Tebow A Jaguars Solution

In a conversation this week, I had a couple of Jaguars fans tell me they thought that Head Coach Urban Meyer was “calculating.”

“That’s a good word,” I told them.

It really does seem to be part of Meyer’s personality, and one of things that, to me, is unappealing.

But that calculating trait can’t be overstated on the plus side when it comes to potentially signing Tim Tebow this week. Meyer said yesterday after the rookie camp practice that the staff would meet today to decided what to do with Tim. Which for the Jaguars, Meyer, Jacksonville and Tim, signing him to a contract would be a good thing.

All of the animus toward Tebow, Meyer and the Jaguars comes from the outside. It should make those of us who live here, and especially those who have covered the NFL laugh out loud.

How often was Bill Parcell’s lauded by the media for bringing ‘his guys’ along to whatever team he was coaching at that point. Dave Meggett, Keith Byars and even Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe were among those added to Parcell’s rosters in his four-team, nineteen-year NFL coaching career. They got his message across in the locker room.

Putting Tim on the team isn’t about what he can contribute starting September 12th, it’s about what he can contribute between now and the opener on September 12th.

It’s been hilarious to hear all of the angst and the so-called ‘experts’ weighing in on Tim’s chances and his potential ability as a tight end. Anybody who’s been around Tebow knows he’ll give it his all and see what happens. He’s had a baseball career, he’s been in broadcasting and he still wants to be a football player. In Jacksonville, in the NFL.

He might make the team, and he might not. But bringing him in is a calculated, correct move.

He and Meyer are tight. I’ve been in enough situations with both of them to see the two of them together after practice, walking down the hall after a big victory, standing behind the wall together waiting to enter a press conference to see it.

It’s not your typical player-coach situation. Tim is committed to Meyer and will do what he’s asked. He’s not taking a roster spot from anybody. His chances to make the team are about the same as any other ninetieth player on any NFL training camp roster. He is in the right situation for this team at this time with this coach.

We all also know that the perception of Tebow outside of the people who know him is very different than who he actually is. His commitment to evangelizing his faith can be a turn-off to some but he’s about as straightforward a person that you’ll ever meet.

I was at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago with Peter King, the well-known NFL writer, when he turned to me and said, “I just spent an hour with Tim Tebow.”

“How’d that go,” I asked.

“Is that real,” Peter said, walking down the hallway, knowing I’ve covered Tim and gotten to know him well over the last twenty years.

“You mean who he is?” I replied.

“Yeah, he’s the most earnest and honest person I’ve ever talked with. Is that an act?” he asked, clearly astonished.

“No, that’s who he is,” I said with a chuckle. “It’s not an act, he’s as transparent as it gets. He talks it, but he also walks it. Nothing hidden there.”

“Amazing,” King said as his voice trailed off.

And don’t think Meyer hasn’t thought about the amount of media glare that can be deflected off his new quarterback by putting Tebow on the roster. If Tim’s not there it’s Trevor Time, all the time.

With Tim there, he’ll take some of the media heat just by being. And the amount of media that will be around the Jaguars this summer will be nothing new for Tebow. That’s been his life since leaving high school. Trevor has dealt with a lot of that already, but if he needs any advice on that front, he should look no further than his own locker room to the guy wearing the number one less than his.

Occasionally you’ll hear a coach talk about his own team in terms of the “top” or the “bottom” of the roster. Players are ranked within their own team according to their contributions, usually on the field.

If the Jaguars have ninety players on their roster when training camp opens, it might be fair to say that Trevor Lawrence is at the top of the roster, and perhaps Tim Tebow, about to turn thirty-four years old and five years removed from the league, is at the bottom.

If Tim is the ninetieth player on the roster, what’s expected of somebody who fills that spot? There have been fourth or fifth-string tight ends who have been the ninetieth player on the roster before. They’ll get reps, play scout team and get a chance to show what they can do. Sometimes they make it. Keenan McCardell might have been the ninetieth player on the Washington roster when they drafted him in the twelfth round in 1991 out of UNLV. McCardell went on to become a starter, a Pro Bowl player and won a Super Bowl ring in his seventeen-year career.

Tebow will do all of the things that the ninetieth player on the roster is supposed to do, hustle, fill-in, get a few reps and show what he can do.

But he’ll check a lot of boxes that no other 90th player on any team will. Tebow is on the Jaguars because of his previous relationship with Head Coach Urban Meyer. That’s not new nor is it news. Happens all the time. Especially in the NFL.

Meyer is the coach in Jacksonville and Tim is from here. It’s the only confluence of events that could put Tebow back in the NFL nearing his 34th birthday. Don’t expect Tim to have those locker room exhortations you’ve seen matriculating around the internet from his college days. He’s had success, he’s had failures, he’s gotten married, and he knows the kind of environment that exists in an NFL locker room.

He’ll go about his business, but most importantly, he knows what Urban Meyer expects from the players on his football team. He’s lived it and just by being there and doing, the other players trying to make this team will take their cues on how to get it done.

Does Meyer like it when you show up a half-hour early or does he think that’s patronizing? Does he want two extra reps or four? Tebow has all of the answers to those questions just by being part of the grind.

There were a full group of rookies at their first minicamp as Jaguars yesterday. I’m sure all of them were fast, motivated and trying to shine. But nobody can tell you much about most of them.

They can tell you how Trevor Lawrence walked onto the field, how he put his helmet on, how he took it off, how he drank water and oh yes, they can tell you how he threw the football from the quarterback position.

The answer to that is very well.

Here’s another place I agree with Urban Meyer: You can watch all the tape you want but there’s nothing like standing near a quarterback to see and hear how the ball comes out of his hand.

There’s a singing sound that comes off the ball when somebody can really “spin it” in the modern-day vernacular. You don’t hear that very often and very rarely have we heard that at Jaguars practice.

No more.

“It was really good”, my colleague and friend Mike DiRocco of said with a laugh. “He was limited in his throws (Thirty to forty according to Meyer) but when the ball comes out of his hand, it’s crisp.”

“He’s as good as advertised, on target and on the money,” my trusted colleague here at the Times Union, John Reid said after practice.

Then John gave the assessment of seeing thousands of footballs thrown in practice that only comes from an experienced reporter’s career.

“It comes out spinning and it’s accurate,” John said. “The ball is there when the receiver makes his cut. He doesn’t have to wait on it and it hits him right in the numbers.”

“Oh yeah,” DiRocco agreed. “It’s very different than the quarterback stuff we’ve seen here in the last couple of years. Spinning, crisp, rollouts, drop-backs, didn’t matter.”

In other words, that thing ‘sings’ coming out of his hand. And there was one more thing both Mike and John wanted to relate:

“He looks the part,” Mike said alluding to the whole package of quarterback and first pick overall. “We’ve seen something different before, this was something totally different.”

“He’s got that persona,” John added. “He went from one drill to the next with no problem. He’s the tallest guy out there, he looks big time. He has the intangibles. He’s cool and composed, like he’s done this before. He has the presence of a leader.”

Sports TV Viewing Ups and Downs

Sports TV Viewing Ups and Downs

Standing in line at the hardware store the other day, the guy standing next to me started up a conversation with, “You know, I don’t watch the news anymore, especially the sports.”

He said he recognized me from my nearly four decades on television here in Jacksonville and stopped watching when my career was ended. He added he was just disappointed the way news is being presented in general and specifically how sports have “gotten away from the games.”

In the course of our conversation, the gentleman, who happened to be Black, was particularly frustrated with how politicized sports had become.

When I’m out, I hear that a lot. Is it true? Are people watching less news, less television and less sports?

The big answer is yes. The ‘Why?’ answer is a bit more complicated.

“I’m not happy with the NBA, or Major League Baseball,” one member of the luncheon crowd told me last week after a presentation I was asked give to his civic group. “How do I let them know I’m not happy with what they’re doing,” he said, implying that political overtones were fueling his displeasure.

“Do you watch the NBA?” I asked.

“Not anymore,” he said.

“How about baseball?” I queried since the season had just started.

“Not after what they did with the All-Star game,” he said, referring to MLB moving the game out of Atlanta as a political protest.

“Then you’re letting them know by not watching,” I explained. “If enough people agree with you, they’ll react.”

And the numbers bear that out.

In a recent poll by Yahoo News/YouGov, 34.5 percent of respondents said they watched less sports now because of social justice campaigns. TV ratings for all sports declined in 2020, almost a counter-intuitive statistic considering we were mostly homebound because of the pandemic.

Some of that has to do with the jumbled schedule. Even The Masters, playing November for the first time, saw a drop in viewership.

The NBA was hardest hit. Playing in a bubble, they lost 49 percent of their television viewers for the championship finals compared to 2019. While they had an uptick at the beginning of this season, the ratings have steadily declined since the opener. Less than six million people watched the All-Star game, an all-time low.

“My sense is there will be some sort of return to normalcy,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said before the season when asked about social justice messages on the playing floor and on players jerseys this year. “That those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game,’” Silver added.

There are no political messages on NBA courts this year, and soley players names have returned to the back of their jerseys. While the league has responded to the economic pressure brought to bear by advertisers and disgruntled fans, they say they’re still committed to community change.

“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality. It’s part of the DNA of this league,” said Silver.

An increase of political commentary outside of the political arena and its negative effect on viewership is nothing new. The Oscars and the Super Bowl traditionally have been the highest rated shows on television year after year. As Hollywood has become more vocal politically in the last three decades, the Oscars viewership has dropped precipitously. Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by more than 100 million people. The Oscars had one fifth of that audience.

Perhaps the NBA is the league least worried about television watching in the United States because of their international digital presence. The league has more than 150 million followers across all social media platforms, more than the other US leagues combined. In the last three years, their social media views have jumped 43 percent.

Watching a highlight on one of your social feeds is monstrously more popular than actually watching the games.

It seemed that Major League Baseball was trying to offset any thoughts that their viewership might be down when they sent an extended press release touting the number of “streaming minutes” viewers were using through the first three weeks of the season. Their traditional watching viewership is also up over last year’s shortened 60-game, delayed-start season even if the World Series was the least-watched in MLB history.

With the smallest drop in viewership, the NFL was down just seven percent last year, and recently signed a more than $100 billion media deal that will take them through the next decade. (If you’re doing the math, that’s $312M per team, per year before they sell one hot dog, one beer, parking space, sky suite, sponsorship, well, you get the point.)

An aging fan base could be one easy reason for the decline in viewership. The average age for an NFL viewer went from 44 to 50 years old from 2000-2016 according to the Sports Business Journal. Yet the NFL had forty-one of the top fifty rated television slots last year.

It could be that with overall reduced television watching, sports broadcasts become a more valuable commodity. Even though they have a fixed starting time that doesn’t fit into the current flexible work environment most companies have adopted, sports fans will find their games and their teams. That’s why they’re so coveted by advertisers.

Viewing habits now dictate If you want people to watch, you have to make it available when they want it. Streaming services specialize in just that. Cord cutting has reached 31 million households in the US, diminishing the overall viewership pool. That’s why Nielsen estimates streaming is up nearly 75% year to year.

If you follow sports, you’ve no doubt heard of the number of layoffs ESPN has had over the past few years. It’s easy to explain when you see that the all-sports network was in over 100 million homes in 2013: That number is now around 83 million.

All of that trickles down to local viewership as well. On a good day, the local newscasts at six o’clock currently combined will have about 265,000 viewers including all channels. That number is down sixty percent from just 10 years ago.

Nielsen counts North Florida as the forty-first television market in the country with about 690,000 households. Using an average of 2.5 people per household, that adds up to 1.725 million people, meaning approximately only fifteen percent of area residents are watching the news live.

And the smaller numbers are not limited to the news. Overall television viewership is down. People are watching and doing something else, and on different devices.

Netflix holds their ratings very close to the vest, but their growing numbers have siphoned off traditional viewers year after year. Prime time shows on network television have seen their audience cut in half in the last five seasons.

Sports-wise, I know personally that local teams winning has an immediate impact. The highest rated shows I ever appeared on during my television career were centered around the Jaguars when they were winning. When the Jaguars aren’t doing well, like last season, those shows get ratings known in the TV business as “chicken scratch.” No discernible numbers. As in, not enough viewers to count.

Will overall viewership ever come back? Probably not centered on one platform with so many different options available to find information and highlights. Television viewing and especially sports television numbers are always highest in the fourth quarter of the year. If stadiums are full, that’ll be a good indicator of where the TV numbers might or might not go.

But the one common thread will be that sports fans will watch sports, somewhere. If there is a diminishing overall number of people watching television, a bigger and bigger share of that number will be sports fans watching a live game.