Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Price Gouging, NFL-Style

By Anthony Brancato

Starting in 2015, book stores like Barnes & Noble stopped carrying the NFL Record & Fact Book.

Only a privileged few "insiders" have received copies of the book since then, with some of them rather unscrupulously putting their copies for sale online, often fetching exorbitant prices.

This year, the price has reached an all-time high: you can "Buy it Now" on eBay — for $319.99, plus $7.00 shipping.

This is some way to treat the fans who have long depended on the book for readily-available, at-a-glance information. Even today, not everyone has Internet access.

For those who do have such access, the 2019 edition is available on the NFL's website, if you know where to look for it. But what good does that do? Presumably the 2020 edition will go up on the site sooner or later — but that won't do a whole lot of good for the suckers who will have already paid more than $300 for a hard copy of the book — and who's to say that the price won't go even higher?

Perhaps the book's most popular section is the all-time team-vs.-team results, enabling readers to easily determine whether one team has a long winning streak over another, whether a team hasn't won in a particular city in a long time, and things of that nature — things that can be important to those who are, heaven forbid, actually betting on games, something the NFL lost its moral high ground to kvetch about once they got into bed with DraftKings and FanDuel, who both now maintain sportsbooks in addition to fantasy leagues.

Both the owners and the players have already lost, or are destined to lose, oodles of money from the exhibition season getting canceled, with a lot more losses on the way if, as many predict, the season will be aborted by the coronavirus (one betting line has it at -140 that the season will be scrapped at some point, and even money that it will not — a bad bet either way with that much "vig" involved).

The right thing for the league to do would have been to return to its pre-2015 policy of making the NFL Record & Fact Book available to all, just as DirecTV has made NFL Sunday Ticket available to new subscribers at no additional cost.

But unlike his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, Roger Goodell has proven that he doesn't even know what the right thing is.

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