This year, we have had a completely featureless Super Bowl and now a completely featureless Champions League final. The stark scorelines were New England 13 LA Rams 3, and Liverpool 2 Tottenham nil.
The NFL has what is arguably the shortest season in professional sport, just 16 games. Four preseason games and if you are lucky enough, a total of four finals games, culminating in a Super Bowl.
It’s clear the game is more physically demanding than Major League Baseball (176 games) or the NBA (82 games) or most of the major football/soccer leagues in the world (30-60 games). But are four preseason and 16 regular season games enough to grow talent, build structure or create a bond between players? I think not.
It takes longer than that for players to know each other games, let alone form a cohesive approach to winning championships. Yes, I understand they have been doing this for many years now, but why not have a longer pre-season or a summer league like the NBA to help develop that talent into what coaches want their players to be.
Not only does that help to improve players, the NFL can also sell tickets to the games and make more money. It seems a no-brainer to me.
In the NFL you have 32 teams who are split into eight divisions of four teams. You play the other teams in your division twice, meaning six games. Then you play ten other teams in the league once.
I used to think I knew how the format worked, but they seem to throw me a curve ball nearly every year. For this purpose, let’s just say you play ten other teams.
Before the season starts, teams reduce their squad from 90 players to a 53-man roster who will compete in week one. Of those 37 players who are dropped, not a lot see game time. They train and run drill with the practice squad and are assessed by the team in a non-game format. Why not give those players a chance to compete in real, game time situations by introducing a summer league?
You don’t have to play them in big stadiums, in front of 40,000 people. You can simply play them at local suburban grounds. Bring the game back to the people.
You don’t need to play people like Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton. But it gives you a chance to blood young kids in a game-like environment.
You sell ticket to such a game or open the doors for free. You would find that you would fill seats quite easily. It’s not cheap these days to attend live sport, of any code. Why not give back to the people.
Surely this is a viable option for the league. Sure, insurance premiums would go up. But it’s not always about teams making money. It’s about teamwork, cohesion and understanding the moves your teammates will make.
The NFL needs to consider expansion for a summer league or even expansion of the competition. But that’s an argument for another day.
I personally, can’t wait for September to roll around for the season to start. Early February always comes too quickly for the culmination. It’s the only sport in the world which runs less than five months. Unless you count Hungarian ice fishing.
The time for change is here. The NFL can cash in, the teams get a chance to blood young players and the fans get more games. Why is this not a thing?