I learned firsthand of the NFL's sensitivity to criticism of inaction on health issues in the run up to the 1997 Super Bowl in New Orleans. At that time the Superdome had a towering spire in its parking lot topped by billboard featuring the Marlboro Man. Similarly, inside the Dome were several strategically positioned ads for cigarettes. The Louisiana Tobacco Free Kids organized a children's demonstration in the shadow of the Marlboro Man to protest the connection between smoking and sports. The adults present also questioned whether television cameras catching sight of the tobacco ads during game broadcasts violated the ban on TV cigarette advertising. Several news outlets, including national newspapers, reported on the protest, but not the hometown The New Orleans Times-Picayune. A reporter subsequently explained to me that in awarding Super Bowls the NFL expects only "positive press" from local news outlets during the event. Executives worried that the League might count it against the city if the paper carried a report that effectively highlighted the NFL's unwillingness to stand against kids smoking.To be fair, the T-P reporting around the Super Bowl this year wasn't all glowing positivity.. although there certainly was a lot of that. I didn't think this article said the most positive things about what the NFL does for the city and state, for example.
Friday, August 30, 2013
"The NFL expects only 'positive press"'
Maybe, as an adult reader, I shouldn't be as amazed by this stuff as I am but I don't understand how they can comply with this sort of thing and then expect their readers to take them seriously.