Having spent nearly six hours last night watching playoff games (Bulls and Blackhawks), there can be little doubt that the current excitement level generated by the NBA and the NHL playoffs proves one thing: the supremacy of the NFL is driven by the fact that each and every NFL game is meaningful. The longer the season, the less meaningful each game becomes, the less people are interested. When games become meaningful, people pay up for tickets, make it “appointment television” and tune in. (This obviously applies to baseball, too, but Chicago teams are so infrequently in the MLB playoffs that it’s a point that hardly seems worth making.)
The regular seasons of these sports border on the unwatchable–especially the NBA. They play six months to eliminate only a few teams, then play like it really means something for three months. Not so the NFL. Those guys are grinding on every down.
The reasons for this include:
- Guaranteed contracts in non-football sports,
- The desire to extend the excitement of NHL/NBA playoffs causes too few teams to be eliminated by the regular season–rendering the regular season ever more meaningless
I’d like to claim this insight as my own, but it has been previously made by Gregg Easterbrook in his guise as ESPN.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback. I’ve been reading his columns for years (since he was on Slate.com eons ago), and it has changed for the better the way I watch football and my understanding of it. For a football fan, I cannot give a stronger recommendation.