As the Ultimate Reality Show’s ultimate offseason reality show prepares to have the largest in-person and television audiences ever, the NFL is sweetening the pot for the players who are invited to attend. Sort of.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com announces that the player’s high school coach will be part of the entourage who attends the draft, with all expenses paid.
It’s a shrewd move by the league, a low-cost strategy for tapping deeper into feelings like loyalty and guilt in an effort to get the player who may be inclined to pass on the invitation to attend. Now, it’s not just family members who get to experience the draft, it’s the person who helped craft the young version of the soon-to-be NFL player. How can the player deny his high-school coach that opportunity?
The added benefit for the league is the expansion of the cast of characters for the reality show with unpaid actors; someone to mention during the broadcast — and someone who’s reaction can be captured by the cameras.
Over the years, the NFL has done an amazing job of convincing incoming players that everything about the draft is a privilege and an honor and a blessing, even if (here comes the crusade) the draft remains at its core the antithesis of the American way. New employees once again don’t get to pick their employer, their employer picks them. And those new employees, the real stars of the Ultimate Reality Show’s ultimate offseason reality show, continue to be (as they were in college) the only people attached to the process who don’t get paid to be there.
The fact that so many who would otherwise favor a free-market approach to American business react so strongly and negatively to the mere suggestion of ending the draft or paying players an appearance fee to attend it remains a testament to the very best efforts of the NFL’s P.R. function, baked deep into the psyche of players, coaches, fans, and media during over the last four decades. The latest perk is just another way to get everyone involved to not realize how fundamentally unfair it is to keep players who were able to choose the college they’ll attend from choosing the place where they’ll work.