End exhibitionism in the National Football League

Once again, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived for fans of the National Football League. NFL exhibition games, euphemistically called “preseason,” began with the annual kickoff at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Fans know that their team’s weekly contests and every day of pregame speculation and postgame dissection is just around the corner. The feeling for football fans is similar to that of children when Christmas merchandise appears in stores. Unfortunately, anticipation has been needlessly stretched as have retail outlets by decorating right after Labor Day instead of after Thanksgiving.

Honestly, does anyone still cling to the outdated idea that pro football players need four pointless games to prepare for the regular season roster of sixteen? Teams participate in mini-camps during the off-season. Additionally, players voluntarily participate in drills with their teammates throughout the spring and summer prior to the official opening of training camps. The days when most, if not all, players showed up to training camp in the middle of summer overweight, stiff, or otherwise indifferent to any football-related matter since their teams’ last game from the previous season have passed. of the phonograph and black and white televisions.

Of course, most fans enjoy watching the first and possibly the second exhibition game. Those two provide an opportunity to see drafted rookies and new additions to the team acquired through free agency or offseason trades. Few fans have access to the scrimmages held during training camp, so the first exhibition game remains the initial viewing of the newcomers in their new uniforms. However, the novelty soon wears off with the knowledge that any outstanding performance must be weighed against the half-hearted level of effort from veterans in games and the irrelevance of final scores. The only drama for fans watching the last two exhibition games lies in holding their collective breath in the hope that none of their teams’ starting players sustain injuries that prevent them from playing the games that actually count in the standings. .

Therefore, this writer proposes the removal of the last two exhibition games. Without a doubt, the owners and others who benefit financially from the realization of these meaningless contests will oppose it. After all, NFL teams charge high ticket prices for these glorified games that season ticket holders can’t avoid since these exhibition games are included in their season ticket packages. Those who make their living off of game attendance, such as vendors, parking attendants and others, would hate to see two of their ten sales opportunities disappear. Obviously, some reward must be offered to ensure the pain of withdrawal.

The solution will prevent lost revenue from those interested in maintaining the number of games played at an NFL venue while giving fans more of what they deserve: games that count in the standings. . The last two exhibition games must be replaced by two other regular season non-conference games. Just as college football teams typically play two or more non-conference opponents at the start of a season, the NFL would benefit from such a scheduling structure. The number of games a team would host would not change, so there would be no loss of revenue. Fans wouldn’t feel cheated paying to watch as many inconsequential games as they currently do.

To further bolster the appeal of these two additional non-conference games, each team would have a roster of annual opponents that would garner a lot of fan interest to watch the teams play each season despite not being in the same conference. Various matchups of teams in the same state or very close to each other stand out as obviously interesting contests. The high level of anticipation would exist regardless of the records of the teams entering the contests. Opponents in the same media markets, such as the Jets and Giants, as well as the Raiders and Forty-Niners, would provide an outlet for the antipathy between both sets of fans on the field during a relevant regular-season game. Intrastate games like the Cowboys vs. the Texans, the Buccaneers vs. the Dolphins, the Redskins vs. the Ravens, the Eagles vs. the Steelers, and the Rams vs. the Chiefs certainly have more appeal in a regular season game even though these teams they often play their inside part. state counterpart in exhibition contests. Even annual meetings between border-state teams like the Colts vs. Bears, Lions vs. Browns, Chargers vs. Cardinals and Falcons vs. Jaguars could turn into heated rivalries with a traditional season-opening date between them.

An additional financial benefit of scheduling these games with teams within close proximity of each other should appeal to owners and fans alike. The shorter distance between the visiting team’s city and the home team’s stadium will reduce travel costs. For some of these proposed annual contests, the visiting team could easily take buses to their opponent’s stadium. A person doesn’t need a Ph.D. in economics or management to realize the tremendous savings in substituting one or two short bus rides for several dozen adults instead of flying across time zones for a handful of trivial exhibition games. . Also, away fans will be more likely to attend games if they can drive to the opponents’ stadium and return home on game day.

So when will Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL franchise owners adjust to the current situation and abolish some of their unnecessary games in favor of ones that will draw much more fan attention? Hopefully, the change will happen before the decades passed before the NFL recognized the usefulness of the two-point conversion and implemented it.

COPYRIGHT BY CHARLES KASTRIOT AUGUST 2009

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