Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Simple Solution to the NFL's 18 Game Dilemma

The impending NFL lockout has me really concerned. What am I going to do next fall with my Sundays if the NFL players are locked out?  Where are my kids going to go on Sunday afternoons if I’m home, instead of watching football at Gillette? Things could get really sticky at the JMR household if I don’t have anything to stress over on Sundays at 6pm if I failed to cover at 1pm.

No!!!!!!!!         courtesy of sportsbuffalo.blogspot.com
 I addressed one of the sticking points of the latest NFL labor troubles (and many would say the only sticking point) when I endorsed the revenue sharing model of the NFL introduced by a writer at Yahoo Sports. One of the other obstacles remains the owner's insistence on increasing the regular season from 16 games to 18 games. The two sides are pretty clear: the owners want to make more money on more games, and the NFL players want to make more money on more games. I frankly don’t believe that the increased likelihood of getting hurt is really a concern for the players association.  That doesn't stop this from being an issue though, so there have been a lot of attempts to compromise this issue.  Mandating that players may only play 16 games of the 18.  Reducing the number of preseason games to 2 instead of the usual 4.  Increasing the number of bye weeks from 1 to 2. The list goes on and on.

But there is one idea that I have not heard about in my research. Admittedly, my research consisted of searching Google for 5 minutes here or there during timeouts in kids basketball games and practices or while sitting in front of my kegerator drinking a Southern Tier, but even then I couldn’t find anything. I want to pat myself on the back just thinking of this solution.

Now one of the issues that the players have brought up as a real concern to the 18 game season (besides $$$ of course) is that the increased amount of playing time in an 18 game season (12.5% increase) will increase the likelihood of additional injuries. And not just a 12.5% increase, but more exponential than that because the injuries at the end of the year will increase significantly as players are more tired and banged up as the season (and real games) goes on. The owners feel like the increased schedule will help struggling franchises survive because of additional revenue sharing and potential for local revenues with only a small increase in overhead.  Fans and media alike are concerned about the integrity of records like Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record and Dan Marino’s single season passing yardage record that will be obliterated with 2 additional games. That's really laughable.  But, there is an easy solution to all of these issues (if these are truly the issues).

The standard 16 game regular season (no playoffs and no overtime) consists of 960 minutes of game time. The owners are clamoring for more games, and the players are clamoring that an increased schedule will lead to more injuries and worse dilute the product. Can you see the easy solution that will only marginally affect the integrity of the game?

52 minute games! 

Hear me out.

Players:  18 games of 13 minute quarters will actually REDUCE the total number of minutes that each team plays from 960 to 932 and will, according to the NFLPA, keep the number of injuries at a status quo with previous years.

Owners:  The Owners' contention will be that reduced game time will reduce the number of TV/Internet/Radio ads.  But I have a solution to that as well. An average 60 minute games consists of approximately 45 minutes of commercials (28 breaks of 90 seconds a piece) depending on the number of commercial breaks during a game. With the 12.5% reduction in game time comes a concomitant 12.5% reduction in advertisement time (5.5 minutes).  The way to increase the amount of commercial time without really affecting the quality of the product is to have a two minute warning in each quarter. This will lead to two additional breaks of 3 minutes. If the two minute warnings are increased to 2 minutes each from 90 seconds, this will actually increase game time advertisement by 5 minutes.  This system is employed by the NBA, which has TV timeouts after dead balls at 6 minutes and 3 minutes every quarter.  These games will also be able to fit easier into the 3 hour blocks that make TV scheduling so neat and tidy.

Fans/Media:  The integrity of the game will practically remain the same since the increased TV timeouts will permit more plays to be run in 52 minutes in my revised game than the first 52 minutes of the regular 60 minute game.  But the 18 game season will not result in all of the cumulative records to be broken similar to when the NFL increased the regular season from 14 games to 16 games in 1978.  The additional games will be a boon to fans and media alike allowing for more fantasy football, more gambling and more things to write about during the Fall and Winter.  Fans who complain about the time of games will be satisfied that the games will be closer to three hour affairs. 

This is a win win for everyone. The owners have their additional two games and the players don’t have to play any more because of it, but still share in the increased revenue. Statistical records remain mostly in tact and games are played faster. I'm in favor of the 18 game season and I'm really in favor of the Super Bowl being played on a holiday weekend.  Now if only they’ll let me into the mediation sessions.

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