NFL Schedule Release Day is More Important Than I Thought it was...
Never let it be said I won't admit when I'm wrong. The reason I say this is for years I've been whining about what I believed to be a totally manufactured day for the NFL Football offseason being totally irrelevant. NFL Schedule release day.
Don't get me wrong, I still believe the NFL Marketing folks and Networks collude to breathlessly hype the day--but I now after some further reading understand why it matters to the teams.
Fans, not so much. NFL Fans know shortly after the playoffs end which teams their favorite squad will face in the next season. The only thing missing--the date.
But for the teams, it's vital. The time between the end of the season and May when the schedule is put into play is to work out National TV Appearances, you know, the Thursday night or Sunday/Monday night games and even who the 4pm Sunday national game will be.
Really the reason it matter though is for planning. My whining about the hype did not allow me to understand why having the dates is so important. It's really pretty simple: Planning.
It gives teams the time needed to book hotels, reserve air travel, put dates on tickets and for those who don't wholly own their stadium, book dates at the facility they play in. And yeah, that may be the behind the scenes stuff that fans don't pay attention to, but it is arguably the most important thing any team has to do in advance for their upcoming season.
I don't believe as I said earlier, it's possible to have game dates ready a week or two after the Super Bowl, it' s just not that simple for the schedule makers. Everything is a negotiation when it comes to a Professional Sports league and the networks that broadcast their product. For the NFL, it's not one, it's CBS, Fox and NBC plus ESPN and the NFL Network.
Matchups while, pre-determined, often will get moved around to accommodate the agreements with each of those networks, sometimes involving concessions or wording in each contract allowing the selection of games. Giving one network a preferred matchup means having to accommodate the requests of another who didn't get their preferred choice, it's a much more complicated negotiation than any of us would like to think.
Now---all that being said, this year (2020) is further complicated by the COVID-19 world in which we currently live. There's no guarantee at this time any game on the schedule will be played based on public gatherings, quarantine restrictions and virus statistics.
Essentially the schedule makers have to create a schedule that can fold or accommodate missed games or other potential curveballs which could cause games to be postponed or cancelled.
Do I think we'll get NFL Football in September? Probably. Do I think they should play? Debatable. Most medical folks that I've read about seem to think we are far from done with the virus which has claimed a horrific amount of lives. But the politicians are bound and determined to open the world back up and that may override the health or death concerns which is a problem.
No, I'd like to think I'm smart enough and well enough read that the "Conspiracy" theories, claiming something made up by Journalists and Doctors to either discredit politicians or make a side profit is dangerous and ignorant. And I'm following things closely enough to see that in population centers where NFL teams play---still have issues.
I hope I'm wrong by saying I have doubts about the NFL playing their 2020 schedule, really I do. But it's hard to comprehend how you can put a couple hundred people (teams, officials and TV broadcast crews) in a stadium without fans, make sure all are healthy and not spreading the virus and do it in at least 15 locations every weekend without an issue.
Either way, we'll see. But circling back to the main point of my column here, enjoy your NFL Schedule release date. In a world where ESPN televising Korean Baseball because they are desperate for live programming, we should have a full day of Schedule Release.
It's important for the teams and this year it is important for fans, more than it ever has been. So tune in, watch and think about what you might get to do in the fall. In a world where most of us have been forced to largely stay at home, having something like this to look forward to is quite honestly--something to be excited about....