Apparently the Golden State Warriors became the worst team in the NBA this year. I wouldn’t know — I don’t think I’ve watched a full basketball game yet this season.
Last season, I didn’t watch any MLB until the World Series. I also don’t think I’ve watched any NHL at all this season. What would be the point? Do regular season games really matter?
Perhaps seasons are too long. If the NBA and NHL playoffs don’t start for another three months, why would I watch any regular-season games? In the NBA, the top two teams in each conference are usually the only ones with any chance, and in the NHL, any team that makes the playoffs has a relatively equal chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
As the NFL gears up for new labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association, the league is asking for an additional regular-season game each season, possibly coinciding with a two-week extension to the schedule.
To sports leagues, more games means more stadium attendees, more concession sales, more television viewers, and more money. To the NFL, an additional game could be hosted in foreign markets, allowing an increasingly global fan base to grow.
Meanwhile, the MLB might be looking to cut back on games. In 2018, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he’d be open to shortening the season from 162 down to 158 or 154 regular season games. The MLB season has the most games of any major sports league, and reducing it could reduce issues relating to colder weather in the playoffs. However, this would also almost certainly cause a reduction in revenue, and thus in salaries for players.
Most NFL games sell out. Several teams even had an average attendance over 100 percent this season. On the other hand, some low-performing, small-market MLB teams are subject to local blackouts if too few people show up at the stadium, meaning that the game is not televised to viewers in the media market where the team plays.
I like the idea of a schedule reduction in the MLB, and I am also fine with an expansion in the NFL. NFL games happen only weekly, and there are so few of them. It is not difficult to convince me to watch one more football game on a Sunday. Every game seems to matter. But in the MLB, I would not notice any difference if the MLB cut eight games. I probably wouldn’t even care if they cut the season in half. No specific game seems like a “must win” until maybe the final two weeks of the season.
The NFL manages to be extremely profitable with a short season. Because games are weekly and few, it is easy to plan to watch all of them. Because there are fewer games in the season and playoffs seeding affects postseason success, every game matters. For other leagues, it is unreasonable to watch all of the regular season games, so I rarely watch any of them.