In recent weeks, LIV Golf has emerged as an unexpected competitor for the PGA Tour. The fight has quickly gotten nasty, and the dollars quickly have mushroomed from enormous to obscene. Most recently, the chance has emerged of the LIV Golf folks poaching Charles Barkley from his long-time role with Contained in the NBA.
So, should the NFL be anxious about something like this happening in pro football?
On one hand, it’s so much easier to establish a series of golf events to compete with the PGA. Golfers are one-man teams. It’s a sport driven largely by TV, and it doesn’t take much infrastructure to drop players onto a course with cameras covering the motion and a number of broadcasters talking into microphones.
Then again, the nation has an awesome appetite for football, especially during football season. While the NFL, thanks iconic franchises throughout the nation and a large fan base that follows the game intensely and passionately, has the cash and the ability to beat back challengers (nobody has even tried for the reason that original USFL within the Eighties), the continued growth of legalized gambling will create an appetite for things on which to wager.
Tuesday and Wednesday nights remain wide open, and the league’s broadcast antitrust exemption prevents NFL games from being played on Friday nights and Saturdays from Labor Day through early December. That’s 4 night per week that a competing league could use — until the NFL inevitable begins playing games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
One specific hurdle would entail acquiring talent. More cash might be offered to incoming players than the NFL currently pays, because of its 11-year-old rookie wage scale. Veteran players whose contracts expire also can be fair game.
In fact, a rival league would want to fund way more than player payrolls. Coaches, officials, executives, etc. Not to say adequate venues.
Most significantly, the rival league would want a number of broadcast partners. That wouldn’t be easy, on condition that every major network already does business with the NFL. If certainly one of the league’s broadcast partners became partners within the broadcasting of one other league, the NFL wouldn’t be joyful, to say the least. If a network that hopes to eventually do business with the NFL does business with one other league, that network would dramatically reduce its ability to ever attract an NFL contract.
Obviously, it could take so much money. The Public Investment Fund, the official name of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, has launched LIV Golf. It reportedly has estimated assets of $620 billion. If the Public Investment Fund desires to attempt to tackle the NFL, it might. It might not work, however it has the cash to no less than try.
Here’s the actual query. Is LIV Golf a limited enterprise, or is it step one toward broader ambitions of the Public Investment Fund? If it makes a move within the football industry, it might make it uncomfortable and expensive for the NFL, at a minimum. Along the best way, it could bait the NFL into committing antitrust violations, which it already could have done to the PGA Tour.
The query isn’t whether it can. They query is whether or not it might. And $620 billion in assets says it might.
Thus, even when it never happens, the chance should no less than be flickering on the periphery of the radar screen of the things about which the NFL is worried. The NFL may have to be occupied with rapidly employing strategies for warding off an entity with ultra-deep pockets that decides to attempt to encroach on the NFL’s turf. And the NFL needs to be very cognizant of behaviors that would end in an eventual verdict far larger than the $3 it lost at trial after the USFL proved that the NFL had crossed the road of legal liability, but had didn’t prove actual harm resulting from the league’s proven antitrust violation.