Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Mavericks, seldom lacks for an opinion. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker and often wanders into the Land of Oz. That causes many people to ignore what he has to say – sorta like the boy who cried wolf too many times.
But Cuban shouldn’t always be brushed off as some spoiled rich guy who likes to hear himself talk.
Recently Cuban had a word of warning for the NFL: You’re getting too greedy and, if you don’t slow down it, bad things are a coming. Cuban uses the analogy of fatting up a pig. At some point the hog gets slaughtered. Okay, there’s no question about Cuban’s agenda. An NFL game on TV opposite an NBA game is no contest. The NBA and other TV shows get hammered.
The popularity of the NFL is off the charts and growing, but I agree with Cuban. The NFL is expanding its Thursday night package of TV games. It already owns Sundays and Mondays. When will it include Saturday games before December? When will there be Friday games? How will a Tuesday night game go over? Hell, might as well brighten up Hump Day and play a few Wednesday night games, too. Ah, let Tuesday be a day of rest.
Playing a game on Monday night was a stroke of genius. When the idea was first talked about 45 years ago it was quickly dismissed by everyone except a young executive at ABC-TV, which was then a network barely staying afloat. With almost nothing to lose ABC went with Roone Arledge’s brain child and, before you could say Pete Rozelle, Monday Night Football became an instant hit and helped the NFL become’s America’s No. 1 sport. The boom in popularity hasn’t slowed since for the NFL.
Thursday night games have done well but not great in the ratings. The late-season Saturday games, too, have been ratings winners. So why not keep expanding?
Well, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
NFL fans could once plan their weeks around the Sunday games. The build-up to each game helped fuel the sport’s popularity. The Monday night game of the week became a special event.
But it’s getting to the point when the NFL is asking too much of us. It’s screwing up our routine. The Thursday night games are losing the kids in the audience. They make going to work Friday morning a pain. Another thing to consider is how all of these NFL games are impacting other levels of football. Saturday NFL games in the fall will no doubt hurt the TV audiences of college football games – just as college games played on Friday hurt high school attendance. Ultimately, so much NFL football could hurt interest in both high school and college ball – there’s just so much time a person can devote to football, isn’t there? – and that’s literally biting the hand that feeds you. The NFL has such a great feeder system. Why mess with it?
Is it possible an NFL-crazed nation can get over NFLed?
I admit, that’s difficult to imagine, but it’s worth the NFL owners at least thinking about.
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