The NFL is doing it again. Roger Goodell is desperately trying to find a solution to creating more revenue and the easiest way for him to do that is to expand the regular season or the playoffs.
Forget about the integrity of the game or what’s good for the game.
“I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable. They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don’t see the best players and the games do not count,” Goodell said. “We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs.”
“Valuable,” it’s an interesting choice of words. Regular season games are more valuable than preseason games and playoff games are even more valuable than regular season games. This truth applies to fans and we know it applies for the league.
But it doesn’t create value for the game.
What value is there really when coaches start sitting players in December over the last 3 or 4-weeks of the season because they have already locked up their playoff seed? What value is there for the fans when players start missing more games due to injury because the season is too long? What value is there when half the league gets into the post-season? What value does each NFL event have when regular season games are suddenly treated like preseason games because teams are preparing for the post-season? And we’re talking about December games!
Where’s the drama? Where’s the import of every game? Where’s the weekly tension and significance as each week passes by and teams that finish 9-9 are suddenly wild card teams?
More games or more playoff teams do not make NFL events more valuable to anybody but the league. They can charge higher ticket prices, sell more merchandise and sign bigger television deals. The league benefits greatly from expanding the regular season or the playoffs. Fans will turn out and support the game they love and owners will thrive in the comforts of capitalism. And that’s fine, it’s the American Way and God Bless America!
But the game will suffer.
The commissioner has a responsibility to increase revenue for his league but it cannot be at the expense of the game. There was a time when commissioners respected the sanctity of the game, loved the game and made decisions based on what they believed was good for the game. The bottom line can’t always be the fulcrum for every decision that is made in regard to the game.
The bottom line does not understand the concept of less is more. With each game the NFL adds or each team that is included in the playoffs or both, the product is diluted. And that’s a dynamic the NFL has always had over other professional sports leagues: every game really does count. The NFL is an event-based league with a premium placed on each game. The NBA, NHL or MLB cannot make that claim.
The bottom line: be careful what you wish for, Roger.