Releasing the NFL schedule is stupid


Hooray for the NFL's drip feeding of mostly inconsequential news!

Hooray for the NFL’s drip feeding of mostly inconsequential news!
photo: Getty Images

For anyone who’s ever sat at work and thought “this meeting could have been an email,” this question is for you: Why are you transfixed by the NFL’s schedule being in chunks and chunks for a whole week? is published?

A sports league whose teams are active one day a week for a third of the year has somehow managed to take over the entire calendar and all our attention, and it doesn’t make sense to anyone but the league. Good for them for making it seem like what they do in months that don’t end in “ber” or “uary” has any meaning, but what fools we all are to believe it.

It starts quite harmlessly with mini camps and organized team activities. It’s a long off-season and it’s good to make sure everyone stays on the same page, stays in shape, all that stuff. That leads to training camp, which doesn’t play a role in any sport but somehow takes half the time of the season itself, from the first registration date to the final conclusion of the preseason.

The monster, of course, is the draft that emerged from a smoky Philadelphia hotel ballroom — where team owners, led by Bert Bell, have found they can assign players to teams and therefore don’t have to bid against each other to pay those players a fair price Market Value – at a three-day dorkfest on the Las Vegas Strip. People dress up, put on makeup, and pay thousands of dollars for hotels and plane tickets… to see something that could be done on Zoom in three hours if the Vikings didn’t keep getting up for more potato chips.

At least the draft contains an unknown element. We already know who’s playing who, home and away, because the NFL schedule is based on a division rotation and the previous season’s rankings. Only the dates are missing, but you already know the dates: You sit in front of your TV on Thursday evenings, all day on Sundays and Monday evenings because you are irresistibly addicted to this league. They only reveal some details leading to the release of the full schedule because it is each of their TV partnersthose who put all their money into football, wait a minute to… shall we say… peacock.

And that’s okay! Have fun playing football! But you don’t have to worry about it. It can be cool that the Rams and Broncos are coming the Nickelodeon treatment at Christmas (kind of – the NFL already pushes their players enough that Christmas is a bit much, and this game isn’t going to be as good as the league and Viacom think). It may also be something you completely ignore until the full schedule is released.

You don’t have to think about football on May 9th, 10th, 11th, or even the day when the full schedule comes out, May 12th. You can watch it any time until the end of the summer and it won’t change. It makes sense if you’re traveling to football matches and booking tickets, sure, but even if you are, wouldn’t you rather have all the information at once? Instead, you’ll find out a game or two before Thursday, when the schedule will be announced on a television special for one reason: The NFL has its own television channel, and there are more than 8,000 hours a year that nobody plays NFL football… not that most NFL football ever would be on NFL Network.

Actually, they should air the planned release show a few more times in the summer. It would both help fill in some of that time and serve as a schedule reminder because after four days of non-stop hype about it we’ll all have forgotten 99 percent of the NFL schedule by Friday afternoon because it’s such a stupid thing that we should foolishly pay attention to.

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