As much as I’d like to think the recent publicity about Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and the NFL is about domestic violence, I’m not naïve.  It’s actually a response to the customer experience.


  • The league is concerned that if it doesn’t react appropriately to domestic violence it will lose fans, hence revenue.  This financial lever is the only one that is important to the league.  Domestic abuse and violence are merely “beneficiaries” of these high profile stories.
  • Whether they are season ticket holders, premium television subscribers, or just casual viewers customers are concerned that failing to act appears callous and makes them slightly subhuman.  So the natural reaction is disbelief and disappointment followed by indignation.

Question: Where was this reaction before Ray Rice?

Answer: The same place as the reaction against performance enhancing drugs (steroids), substance abuse (drugs/alcohol), and traumatic brain injury (concussions).

Like substance abuse, domestic violence is neither unusual nor uncommon.  And like substance abuse, domestic violence is not new, although if you have been following the media then you can be forgiven for thinking this is a new occurrence.

Clearly the players who perpetrate violent crimes should be held accountable.  The pivot point is that the NFL is equally culpable and should have known (and acted on) what customers wanted before such vivid examples were publicized.  And they shouldn’t need customers’ vocal prodding to hold itself accountable.  Long live the customer experience!

The NFL’s Customer Experience Problem
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