Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hey, NFL - I Was Thinking...

I was watching football over the Holiday weekend and was amazed at the number of empty seats in the stands. LP Field in Nashville, home of the Tennessee Titans, a decent team with a 6-5 record, was maybe half empty. An optimist might call that stadium half-full, but when you're talking about an NFL venue, you would rather be Lambeau Field, a stadium that would sell out even if the Packers were winless well into the season. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego also had large sections of empty seats, a strange thing when the Denver Tebows were in town, the hottest topic in all of sports right now.

Television coverage for a football fan can be very frustrating, particularly if you rely on the networks and don't have some pricey premium package. (Let's not even talk about the ridiculous dispute between the NFL Network and the cable giants, who can't come to terms, thus depriving us from even considering a pricey premium package.) So if you live on the East Coast, it will be a rare day when you get to see the Seahawks, the Raiders or the 49ers play. Down here in Florida, we are subjected to Buccaneers, Dolphins or Jaguars games; three teams that make up the Triangle of Suck in the NFL. If we aren't being made to watch them stink up the field, then the networks assume we want to see the Patriots. Recent weekends, I have seen more of Tom Brady and that homeless guy who coaches the Patriots than I have my own dog.

When football is not on, the Sports Centers of TV and the web or the Sports Sections of print and online journalism are talking about football. It is, no one can argue, the new national pastime. We don't give a crap about baseball, in comparison. We eat it up, can't get enough of it, and will watch the sorriest matchup in history if it is the only game on TV. 

Which brings me to my point. A football fan will watch any game if it is the only game available. So...WHAT IF...the NFL played six days a week? (My original plan called for seven days a week, but I'm reminded that Saturday is college football day, and that would not sit well with the American football watching public to mix it up like that.)

The season would still be 17 weeks long, you'd just have fewer games per day. There are 32 teams, which makes 15 games a week, allowing for two teams having a bye every week. So, two games on Monday, two on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Sunday you'd have two early games, two late games and one night game. If a team plays on a Monday, to avoid fatigue and allow for jet-lag recovery, that team plays the following week on a Tuesday.  It would be a scheduling nightmare, to be sure, but not one that some innovative programmer couldn't overcome. A fan could conceivably watch every game all season long, granted with a little back and forth on the remote control between the games happening simultaneously.

What about the other TV shows that would get bumped if CBS, FOX or NBC were to take this on? Oh, how sad it would be if 2 Broke Girls or Whitney or one more CSI wasn't available. Move it to another night or time. If the networks follow the money, which they will, they know that the NFL is a ratings bonanza. Let ESPN and ESPN 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and The Ocho get in on the bidding. Advertising, dollars, ratings, licensing, perhaps even stadium attendance will be affected. (We all know that a nationally televised game fills seats better than one only available in the local market.)

I'm sure there are too many interests involved in a plan like this for it ever to really happen, the most powerful likely being the NFL and their precious NFL Network, but I'm throwing it out there. Football fans and football haters are invited to weigh in in the comments section. Tell me why I'm wrong, why this won't work, or what we could do to make it happen. If you're a fan of Whitney, just be quiet. That show is getting canceled and you know it.    

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  • I am a football nut (Eagles fan too, unfortunately, with season tickets) and I love this idea. Even with the Sunday Ticket package you can watch say 8 games at once (channel 702, DirecTv) but this would allow you to concentrate on each game.

    By Blogger Matt, at November 30, 2011 at 9:49 AM  

  • Well, there are lots of problems with your concept, commissioner. First, it would wreak havoc on office football pools. When would sheets have to be turned in, and when would weekly winners be named? Additionally, spreading out games would likely actually hurt ratings. Only hardcore football junkies would be interested in catching those games between losing teams or even divisional rivals. Plus, losing teams and winning teams alike would have difficulty competing against American Idol and Glee. The ESPN-style shows would require re-tinkering too. After all, the weekly wrap-ups provide great filler between the Sunday and Monday games. And Monday Night Football is already a scheduling issue on the East Coast, where people have to stay up late to catch the final moments. Imagine the mess created by holding games every night. Stadium attendance would drop too, as people would be less inclined to drive to the local game on a school night/work night. Football is popular because it’s the only thing on Sunday afternoons worth watching. Remember, people are already pissed off that the games often delay broadcasts of The Good Wife.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 4, 2011 at 4:35 AM  

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