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One of the functions of a league is to ensure that the league has created a schedule that entertains fans, but also draws as much money as possible. So, it is no surprise that the NFL wants to expand to more games, given that a large percentage of their games sell out as is. An increased amount of games means the league could negotiate new TV contracts with increased television fees. However, I think that a move would be a short-sighted disaster.
One of the great things about the NFL is that the schedule doesn’t feel like it’s too long as a fan. Training camps start in the summer, preseason games are at the end of the summer, the season is September through December and then the playoffs begin. By the end of the first week of February, the ups and downs of rooting for your football team can be stored away for a few months. Anytime a season gets longer, a fan is more likely to be burned out. With less down time between the end of a season and beginning of the next, there is the risk that a fan could have less time to let the stresses of caring about their favorite team disappear.
Furthermore, the longer the season, the more of a grind it is on players, health-wise. More games means more chance for injuries and more likelihood of having backup players playing. Increasing the season length without increasing the roster size would be a huge mistake. With a roster size increase, we’re still likely in for a decrease in quality of play, and it’ll become all too likely that a playoff team is derailed later in the year by an injury, as regular season games would go until mid-January, when more games would be taking place in midst of rain and snow.
Also, in a recession, expanding the schedule means more games to purchase in a season ticket plan and more money to spend. Not everyone would be willing to pay for that and that would increase the number of games eligible to be blacked out, which should never be the goal of a league.
Finally, after the abomination that was Sunday’s Cowboys-Packers game, a longer season increases the chances that we see more clunkers like that. I was openly pining for a change to another game, that’s how poor the quality of play was. An increase in the numbers of games would, just by random chance, make it more likely to have another poor game broadcasted to too many people.
So, combining all of these factors, especially when asking people to pay more money to see a lesser product is not a formula for success, I think we can see there’s good argument against increasing the schedule. I’m not a fan of any sort of NFL expansion at the moment. When the time comes that there are a lot of closely packed teams, more than we would normally expect via a normal distribution, then we can look into those items as ways of shaking up the makeup of the league.