We’ve all been there.
You’re standing in line at Potbelly Sandwiches, and, the customer in front of you must leave abruptly after having already placed her order. So, you get your sandwich, and the one left behind, after the clerk offers it to you. Well, that worked out nicely. One for now, and one for later. But, what if like the Red-Hot Chili Peppers, you had “eleven for the later”? You’d have too much of a good thing.
This scenario is not totally unlike the dilemma facing the NFL right now. During the seventeen-week period which comprises the NFL regular season fans have beyond a plethora of options at their disposal in terms of how they rake in the pro football experience. Each week, you can: watch NFL Red Zone, track fantasy stats, talk about them with your friends, watch Rich Eisen talk about games, watch Stephen A. Smith talk about games, then, talk about the things Stephen A. Smith was talking about with your friends.
Even if you’re not devoting four or more hours to watch a sixty-minute football game, keeping up with happenings in the league is still a sizable time investment. In a bottom line world, the bottom line is that people still like pro football, and they want to keep up with it, but in different ways. As it pertains to lunch break debate, you really only need watch a couple of pertinent Antonio Brown highlights, than witness every snap from the line of scrimmage.
The three tentpoles of primetime, televised NFL games are, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football. Ratings for all three are down across the board, anywhere from fourteen percent, to eighteen percent. Sports Illustrated’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” blog, run by Peter King, asked regular fans like you and me what their thoughts were on the dip.
Now, there are demographics out there who will not watch a single deep route, in the regular season or playoffs, until the Super Bowl, one of the highest-rated programs of the year, but certainly the exception to the rule.
Overwhelmingly, their responses focused on the poor structure of broadcasts, and the choppy nature of copious commercial breaks. In addition, the average fan needs fictional Harvard professor, Robert Langdon from “The Da Vinci Code,” to determine what network the game is on.
After that, get ready to work for your game action. The flow of the game is steadily interrupted by subsequent breaks after every kickoff, punt, and even the occasional video review. It can be exasperating for the most ardent supporter, let alone the casual fantasy scoreboard watcher.
Money is of the utmost importance not only to Wu Tang Clan and Pink Floyd, but to the networks who broadcast NFL games, as well. Football on a Thursday transformed from a cherished Thanksgiving tradition, to a season-long proclamation that, the American public wants the weekend to start a day earlier. During its early days, Thursday Night Football brought the marquee matchups you’d want as either a casual fan, or a football junky. Who wouldn’t want to watch a Pats/Broncos tilt with a box full of discounted chicken wings? The trouble, is, half the games are televised on NBC, which lots of people have, and the rest are on the NFL Network, which goes out to far fewer people.
One extra day of pro football to usher in the unofficial start of the weekend, may not be worth it. There’s this persistent, nagging little issue of player safety that is continuously being thrust into the foreground. Creating a threat to the stability of Roger Goodell’s job. Goodell has already grossly mismanaged concerns pertaining to domestic assault and, to a lesser degree, the representation of the Armed Forces at games. Namely, making them pay for appearance time. His fan base continues to dwindle. Considering all this, my opinion maintains that football is a great sport worth sticking up for, and worth preserving.
The stage is set for the conference championship games. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack outlasted sensational rookie QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in an epic Texas showdown. Rodgers and Prescott threw for three touchdowns each. While, out at Arrowhead, the Steelers inched past the Chiefs, to earn the right to square off with the Patriots for the AFC crown. Pittsburgh couldn’t find the end zone, but, thanks to a stellar performance from Le’veon Bell, positioned themselves to connect on a playoff record six field goals.
Once the last piece of confetti is swept up after the Super Bowl, people will start to miss football. It happens every year, inevitably. And, when you realize how much time a typical fan dedicates to the sport, it makes sense. To a viewer, football is an accessible, relatively easy to follow sport. Some of us will have distractions like spring training and NCAA brackets, but a significant portion of individuals will feel a sense of longing once NFL Sundays take their six-month hiatus.
No simple way to change. No simple way to stay the same. My advice? Enjoy what’s in front of you while you can.