Thursday Nights Bad for NFL
Edited by @rezvani7:
Remember when a Fall Sunday meant something?
Just about anyone, from the casual viewer, to the hardcore sports fan, loves the notion of more football. The NFL noticed and obliged by trying to spread out their games throughout the week so that there is more football for everyone, thus, this year will mark the first time in NFL history that Thursday night games will be played on a weekly basis.
Although a weekly Thursday night showdown may give fans more chances to see football, its drawbacks, numerous and frustrating, must be taken into consideration.
Thursday night games do more harm than good on account that they provide an unfair advantage, lower the quality of games, and are inconvenient for many fans. The weekly fall ritual of the fan that parks himself on the couch all day Sunday and watches football is one of the primary reasons that the NFL is successful. Unlike any other sport, the NFL has its day not just once a year, rather every week. Baseball has Opening Day, basketball has Christmas, but only football has every Sunday from September through early February.
This is why fans of football are more knowledgeable about players and teams outside of their personal favorites: the behemoth of fantasy football coupled with the NFL’s single-game day exclusivity leads to greater ratings. If games are to be spread throughout the week, fans will make less of an effort to designate time to watch football; not to mention that the NFL Network is difficult for some fans to get on their cable and satellite plans, therefore, in order to watch Thursday games, many fans will have to put in more effort in favor of simply lounging on their recliner.
Fans are people, and they have lives outside of football. If the NFL believes that the world will stop for Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights, they sure are asking a lot.
It’s no secret that the NFL’s goal is to further increase its economic footprint. Already an $8 billion-a-year industry – and growing – in addition to Sunday and Monday evenings, by slotting top tier games on their exclusive network on Thursday nights, the NFL is requiring more fans to give in and purchase the service from their cable providers. Furthermore, since the NFL insists on having marquee matchups for its evening games, this will further saturate the overall quality of Sunday games. The league is essentially counting on the addictiveness of football to both casual and avid fans to drive up sales of the NFL Network.
From a purely business standpoint, this is a very wise move by the NFL. The product is nearly perfectly inelastic, meaning that regardless of the price, there will always be high demand. Even a privatization-for-profit of all games would make economic sense because you, me, and everyone else would buy rights to view…but is it worth alienating a large number of fans?
Keep the supply where it is because the demand is at a perfect level.
The NFL’s level of parity is unmatched by any other professional league and is one of the paramount reasons that the NFL so popular. Thursday night games will reduce the level of parity because of the unfair advantage unwillingly thrust upon its participants. While it is true that all teams will have the opportunity to play on the NFL Network’s slate of premium Thursday’s, some of the teams will then be able to double-up by playing on Thanksgiving Thursday as well, increasing their chances of winning the fabled Turkey Leg Award.
Playing on a Thursday gives a team an advantage due to the fact that both participants will have to deal with a short week. Coming out of a Thursday night game, teams have three extra days to prepare for the next week; basically half of a bye week. 22 of 32 NFL teams have a winning record after byes since 2008.
The short week doesn’t just provide an advantage or the next week, it also adversely affects the Thursday game. Teams will have less practice time, which will cause sloppy play on both sides. It will also give injured players less time to recover which could result in star players having to miss games that they would not have had to otherwise.
For example, last season’s Thursday night showdown featured the 49ers and Ravens at Baltimore. The Ravens had played at home the previous Sunday, while the 49ers played at home in San Francisco. As a result of this scheduling, the 49ers were made to fly to Baltimore on Monday morning, get acclimated to the time zone, and only have two days to practice before Thursday’s game while the Ravens had the luxury of remaining at home the entire time. As expected, the game was sloppy, full of errors, heavily defensive, and rather painful to watch.
No more Thursdays, I just want my Sunday’s.