Ratings and stadium attendance have been a huge issue for the NFL since disgraced former quarterback Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the National Anthem.
That alone was cause for millions of fans to change the channel when the league finally decided they wouldn’t punish players for disrespecting our nation’s song.
But the NFL might be in worse trouble if this prediction about the upcoming season comes true.
The 2020-21 NFL season is officially underway with the start of free agency in mid-March, but with the looming global coronavirus threat, it’s anybody’s guess whether games will go ahead as planned in September.
The NBA and NHL were both nearly finished with their respective regular seasons before the leagues indefinitely canceled games, and now we’re hearing chatter they could cancel the seasons altogether. However, no official decision has been made yet.
But it would be tougher for the NFL to implement that strategy because of the amount of people that would have to relocate. An NBA team has 15 players. And when you factor in coaches, assistants and managers, you’re only talking about an estimated 30-40 people per team.
However, an NFL football team has 53 players. Adding in coaches, assistants and managers would put it well over 100 people.
In a recent interview with Peter King, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he envisions every game with “no fan attendance.”
He said, “I could easily see camps being shorter, players being tested on a daily basis, things of that nature. No fan attendance. Things like that.”
And although the newly signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) now has a 17-game regular season and 7 teams making the playoffs per conference versus 6 in the past, Blank is cautiously optimistic there will be a full regular season schedule.
Blank added, “If I had to speculate now, and I use the word speculate because that’s really all it is, I would say yes [to 16 games. Only because it’s so far away from where we are today.”
He’s absolutely right about that. Preseason games begin in August but nobody can really predict what will transpire between now and then. It’s anybody’s guess at this point.
Blank also said, “I do think we need football now,” Blank said. “It’s hard to turn on any device you have today, almost any site, television, PCs, laptops, phones — without the first thing popping up being something on the virus. And, that’s appropriate. However, I also think that people want a diversion. People want to be optimistic. People want to think about things that are really good times for themselves and their families and their loved ones and their communities. I think to have that kind of hope and aspiration mixed into your daily life is important.”
We could all use a distraction in this social distancing era but we don’t necessarily need football to cope with it as if it’s a necessary attribute in our daily lives. No, we’re discovering we don’t need Hollywood or sports, but what we do need are the truckers, nurses, doctors and grocery store clerks.
The league still plans to hold the NFL Draft later this month, but it will be virtual with no audience.
But stadium attendance is a key moneymaking figure not only the sports owners rely on but more importantly all of the stadium employees rely on too.