It appears the NFL may finally do something about the biggest ripoff in the world of sports. Commissioner Roger Goodell says he wants to make the pre-season more "fan friendly" and stop the practice of charging regular season prices for exhibition games. To me, this has long been the biggest symbol of the arrogance of the NFL--believing that its product is so superior that fans should be willing to pay the same price, regardless of whether the game actually counts or not.
Major League Baseball spring training tickets run about half the cost of regular season games (more for high demand teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox). NBA pre-season games are also a fraction of regular season contests--and often serve as fundraisers for charities in smaller non-league cities. But the NFL demands its fans pay the same price to watch future grocery store stockers and Arena Leaguers commit holding penalties on three consecutive plays, drop wide open passes and miss chip shot field goals. An even bigger joke is that they would play overtime in these games because "fans deserve to see a winner".
To add financial injury to insult, many of those team include the exhibition contests in their season ticket packages. Adding another couple hundred dollars to the cost--and leaving those customers with tickets they couldn't resell for a quarter of the price, because who is going to give up a beautiful summer's evening to watch bad football, drink overpriced warm beer and listen to the Two Fisted Slobber scream at the top of his lungs the entire second half about how "They need to put Rodgers back in!!"
Speaking of the Average Packers Fan, expect plenty of angst over the next few hours as it appears more likely that tonight's exhibition game against Arizona will not appear on the TV's of Time Warner Cable customers. TWC and Journal Broadcast Group remain deadlocked over how much we the customer should be charged for programming on the last place network on TV. If it wasn't for these pre-season games, would you have even noticed that NBC wasn't on the air?
This would be a good time for us "old timers" to tell our stories about how pre-season games were never on TV "when I was your age". Ironically enough, they couldn't be broadcast because they were never sold out--which is why the NFL decided season ticket holders should be made to buy those games too (at regular season prices). The good new is that everybody can put their high school Spanish classes to good use tonight by watching the game on Telemundo! Although all you really need to know is Pérdida de tiempo (a waste of time).