It's finally here. Football season. Kinda.
It's August, and summer will now slowly relinquish it's hold on the land as crossing guards take over the neighborhood streets and a cooler breeze will occasionally rustle the trees. NFL fans can finally have something on the field to talk about as every team is in full force training camp mode, getting ready for their preseason games and roster cuts. So what's the real rub with the preseason? Some will say teams are fleecing fans for full price tickets for a sub par product.
As the Hall of Fame Game was getting ready to kickoff I came across this tweet from ESPN's Paul Kuharsky.
My annual reminder: The NFL does not kick off tonight. Meaningless games that rip off fans, those start tonight.— Paul Kuharsky (@espn_afcsouth) August 4, 2013
I may be in the minority here, but I really don't see this being that big of a deal.
My initial knee jerk reaction is the stand-by "If you don't like it, don't pay for it" comment. Like it or not we live in a capitalistic society and products and services are for the most part priced at what the market will bear. If charging full price for tickets, concessions and parking for preseason games was as egregious as many would like to make it, then fans wouldn't keep paying for them. But let's look a little beyond that.
I'm not sure how many people actually buy individual game tickets for the preseason, but that's their prerogative. As far as the season ticket holders are concerned, it's a package deal. According to FindTheData.Org, the average ticket for a Tennessee Titans game cost $60 in 2009. That means when you buy season tickets, you're paying $600 for the entire season, including the presesaon games. Would you feel better about the situation if your preseason tickets said $0 on it, and your regular game tickets said $75 instead? You're still paying the same total amount for the season but would you be mentally put off by the $75 per game, or would you be grateful for the "free" preseason games?
The NFL preseason serves many purposes for the teams and coaches that are trying to put the best product on the field in a high pressure, high paying, job. Any coach will tell you how important these dress rehearsals are in determining their final 53 man roster. Likewise their is a multitude of game day functions that need the kinks worked out before it really "counts". Referees, scoreboard operators, security detail, concessions, and more, all have to orchestrate together after months off the scene.
I know that I am probably not in the majority, but I actually enjoy the preseason games. Even the second halves where the back end of the roster are vying for those last few precious spots on the 53 man roster. There's always a surprise story somewhere, and without the preseason the league wouldn't have ever seen the likes of all the undrafted free agents that made their way to greatness.
I will say that even for me I get tired of the preseason by the 3rd game, by which point I am ready for the real deal. The NFL is currently floating out the concept that they are looking into various formats of shortening the preseason, which wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. I am fine with whatever the NFL does to the schedule as long as they don't expand and water down the playoffs.
Even liking the games, there is no way in the world I would pay full price to attend a single preseason game. I am a season ticket holder however, and I know what it is I am buying as well as what the total cost is. I know the total amount I pay to be able to go to all my teams home games, and if the preseason tickets are in that big manila envelope with all the others, then so be it.