Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Above the Rim: For the Love of Football: Tinkering with the NFL schedule

If there’s one thing America loves more than anything, it’s football. But is more football good for the sport? Over the past couple of years, Roger Goodell and the NFL has considered expanding their schedule to include 18 weeks and expanded playoffs. The longer regular season talk has died down a bit with player safety becoming more and more of a concern. However, multiple media outlets have reported that the league has seriously considered adding two more playoff teams annually. To offset the added playoff games, the NFL would also eliminate one preseason game per team.

The loss of a preseason game would alleviate safety concerns some have about the NFL’s current schedule setup. Although the preseason games are crucial in determining each team’s final roster, the amount of warm-up games doesn’t exactly ensure the safety of players. The owners may also have some gripes about losing a preseason game because it could potentially eliminate another home game, which are huge sources of revenue. More playoff games are obviously more profitable for the NFL, who would have even more viewers tuning in to the first few weeks of the playoffs. As they’ve shown in the past, the league doesn’t turn away from money making opportunities.

Although the idea of having a more entertaining playoffs is intriguing, I think there’s more tinkering to be done to the NFL’s schedule structure. The recent insertion of Thursday night games every week seem to be really egregious if the NFL’s primary concerns are supposed to be safety and entertainment. It seems that the Thursday night game is often wrought with exasperation, low scoring totals, and injuries. Eliminating regular Thursday night games should be of higher priority for the league, but it seems they may have overlooked the impact early games is having on teams. An alternative I would be in favor of would be adding an extra bye week to the schedule. This way, teams could have a strategically placed bye week prior to a Thursday night game so they wouldn’t be playing on four days’ rest. As the NFL continues to make changes, it’s important to consider the balance between safety and profit.

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