After reading both Babe Ruthless’ argument in favor of, and Loyal Homer’s argument against the NFL’s possible regular season extension from 16 to 18 games, I am just unable to find a reason why the NFL should not do it.
Loyal Homer gives a solid effort in presenting the case against extending the season, but it just wasn’t enough to carry the day, resulting in a victory for Babe Ruthless.
More Games Would NOT be a Turn-off
The notion that 18 regular season games would be “too much of a good thing” is an absolute non-starter for me. In a market where the competition plays 82, or even 162, games in the regular season I have a hard time accepting that 16 games is the saturation point for America’s most popular sport. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true as extension would help drive fan interest, rather than sour it.
Putting the “Injury” Concern into Context
First, as Babe Ruthless points out, it would be likely that the owners would see fit to compensate their players accordingly for the switching of two games from preseason to regular status. In fact, the players ALREADY draw nearly 60 percent of the league’s total revenues in salary, a fact highlighted by Green Bay Packers’ president Mark Murphy during a press conference earlier this month. Therefore, if the league makes more money by extending the regular season, the players will ALSO make more money.
Even if that compensation did NOT take place, however, that risk is still mitigated.
It is not like these players, who are trained athletes with bodies that are conditioned specifically to endure physical strain, would suddenly be placed in harm’s way. Their occupation REQUIRES exposure to injury through physical contact, and they are at risk from the moment they punch their time card until the moment they clock out.
Babe Ruthless highlights several cases where players were injured during preseason games, but I am going to take that a step further. Think about players like LeCharles Bentley, a Pro-Bowl lineman still in the prime of his career who suffered what would end up as a CAREER-ending injury during training camp.
The risk of injury is ALWAYS there, and it cannot be avoided.
Also, we are not talking about soldiers who risk life and limb 24-hours of every single day for menial wages and the promise of a college education, should they survive their experience. Instead, these are MULTI-MILLIONAIRES who get to PLAY A GAME for their livelihood, complaining about the increased exposure to pulled muscles, twisted ankles, or the occasional broken bone.
Forgive my lack of sympathy, but when the gripes of Ray Lewis are put into REAL perspective, they lose much of their potency.
One final point regarding the issue of injuries is that there is actually a POSITIVE benefit that is also likely to be realized: Yes, two more regular season games equals more exposure to injury, but it ALSO equals to two more weeks of potential recovery time.
Think about the player on a playoff contending team who suffers an injury during week 13 of the regular season, and requires six to eight weeks before they can get back on the field. In a 16-game season, that player would miss AT LEAST the first games of the postseason, and if that player were a key member of the team, missing just one game of the playoffs could be enough to cost their team a shot at advancing to the Super Bowl.
If the season extended just two more weeks, however, that player could have enough time to recuperate BEFORE the postseason, allowing them to actually contribute to their team’s performance on the field when it matters the absolute most.
The Financial Gain Will Be Realized
Realistically, would the owners be in favor of a change to their league if it wouldn’t be guaranteed to make them even wealthier?
While Loyal Homer is correct in pointing out that pre-season ticket prices are equal to those of the regular season, and that the gate revenues would be exactly the same for many franchises whether the game was pre-season or not, he misses the bigger money-making picture for these teams – television.
Preseason games are more likely to be blacked out (consider the recent woes of the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Chargers, for example), and do not get the same nationwide television coverage that a regular season game would get. Most people are simply not interested in a preseason matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens. If that same game were to be played as the 17th regular season game, however – with both teams vying for a playoff spot – it would draw HUGE numbers.
Everyone can be a Winner
Whether you want to discuss revenues, injuries, or fan interest, the result is exactly the same – the NFL absolutely should change to an 18-game regular season. It is one of the few situations in sports where EVERYONE involved would benefit, and the only problem that I can see with this whole issue is that they are not implementing it soon enough.