Do we really need 4 preseason games?

It’s a fair question to ask. In episode 8 of our podcast Mike and I talked about the potential future of the preseason. Will the owners be willing to lose 2 games of revenue to reduce the preseason?

The lowest attendance this year for a preseason game was the Los Angeles Chargers and that number was above 25,000 people. Teams like the Rams and Chiefs have reported attendance well over 70,000. So if you took the average of 50,000 people in attendance, and the average ticket price of $50, that is $2.5 million per game the owners would lose out on. That number is excluding parking/concessions and local television broadcast rights. It’s probably safe to assume that if the preseason was reduced to 2 games, the owners would be losing out on close to $15-20 million.

One thing is for certain, and that is the fans don’t really care about the preseason. It’s exciting for about 10 minutes to see your favorite players play again after a long and exhausting offseason. For the normal fan, that’s when the boredom kicks in. Unless you are a football nerd like us, you probably don’t care to see the 3rd string QB come in and play.

Another thing that is for certain is that the players don’t feel that there is a need for 4 preseason games. You already see teams keeping their starters off of the field for the majority of the preseason and with injuries like Lamar Millers ACL/MCL tear in week 3 of the preseason, you are going to start seeing more and more of that.

Lamar Miller taken off on a cart during preseason game. Image by Houston Chronicle.

So what is the answer to where the preseason will end up. I think the general consensus is that it should be reduced to 2 games and I think that is something that will come up in the Collective Bargaining Agreement next offseason. The question will be wether the owners are willing to budge on the issue because of the revenue loss. I’ve been hearing that the owners are wanting to reduce the preseason but in exchange extend the regular season to 18 games. I think that is something that would excite both the owners and the fans because who wouldn’t want to see their favorite team play more meaningful games. The players on the other hand won’t be so excited. One of the main reasons they want the preseason reduced is to keep their bodies healthy.

My solution would be to increase the regular season to 17 weeks so that it only adds 1 more game. Reduce the preseason to 2 games. Add an inter-squad scrimmage at the team’s stadium that sells tickets. This doesn’t have to be a full contact game. Let the QBs wear non contact jerseys and make this a tailgating/kickoff party for the season. Imagine being a Giants fan and getting to see Eli Manning vs Daniel Jones, or a Redskins fan watching Case Keenum vs Dwayne Haskins.

Adrian Martinez dives for a TD in the Husker spring game. Image by Sandhills Express.

In my solution this game would mirror a college Spring game. It would allow teams to run their full playbook since they usually water it down for the preseason, and the owners would still get the ticket sales from the game. Let’s face it a scrimmage is every bit as exciting as a preseason game anyway. Plus in a scrimmage, coaches can see players twice as much since you’ve got 2 squads playing at the same time. This would more than make up for the loss of revenue because the extra regular season game would bring in more money than a preseason game and a scrimmage would probably bring in the same money as a preseason game. The fans would get what they want with more ways to watch their favorite team. The players would get what they want by having less preseason games. It seems like a win/win situation all around.

The only thing we can really hope for is a fair negotiation of this issue by both the owners and players. Hopefully the stigma the preseason has gained over the last few years needs to be addressed. Let us know what you’d like to see happen in the preseason in the comments section below.

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