With the new ruling by the NFL, professional football teams will now install cameras throughout their locker rooms. For security? No. To enforce league behavior rules? No. Then why? For your entertainment value.
So much controversy exists regarding privacy issues in today’s world. Many of us vehemently want to protect our privacy, especially in light of the NSA, IRS and other current scandals. But are you, as a fan, concerned that the players’ privacy will be violated as their private team moments are broadcast on the big screens at the games or on the small screens of your cell phones, TVs and laptops? Probably not. After all, aren’t these players paid millions to be our players? Don’t we own a piece of them, so to speak?
This interesting mandate originated due to the popularity of videos featuring Indianapolis’s own Chuck Pagano that went viral. We were riveted by the Colts’ head coach’s coach’s emotional locker room speeches as well as his his celebration dance (and I use the term ‘dance’ loosely).
The media, die-hard fans, and even casual observers were caught up in the roller coaster of emotions surrounding his illness and recovery. Once people are emotionally invested, loyalty is a natural by-product, and we soon saw Coach Pagano’s popularity skyrocketing. NFL decision-makers sat up and took notice, leading to a decision that will use locker room videos, dispersed via NFL websites, game broadcasts and social media, to help fans connect with players and teams on a level that has been unavailable to them previously. This is a win-win for the NFL, teams, and fans.
Or is it? What about the players? Is this an invasion of their privacy? Will this interfere with team dynamics? Inevitably, it will. Some players may try to build their personal brand by ‘hot dogging it’ in order to go viral. Others will shy away from the cameras and retreat. In the opinion of one former college football player (ok, it’s my son Kaleb Donahue,) 80% of locker room conversation should never be broadcast to the public, because it consists of frank and earnest (and sometimes heated) conversations meant to build team unity and team performance. If those conversations are discouraged by the presence of cameras, the team could miss opportunities to build into a more cohesive and productive unit.
So, is the NFL’s decision a good one? If handled correctly, I think so. It will be up to the coaches and team management to assure these professional players build into the cohesive, productive unit. The players, and the teams, are successful because of the fans. Anything that can help fans to feel more a part of the game experience will result in more emotional investment by the fans and therefore more loyalty toward the teams. More loyalty toward the teams means more dollars for the NFL. It’s a win-win.