Follow TSS on Twitter @TheStudentSect
Here’s your scenario:
Girl gets home from work, sees boyfriend lying on couch watching television.
Girl: What do you want to do tonight? So happy New Year’s Eve is on a Thursday. New Year’s Day is a Friday — it’s a three-day weekend! You wanna go to a NYE party at so-and-so’s house?
Guy: Nah, let’s just stay here (hoping she doesn’t ask why).
Girl: Okay. It’ll be kind of nice to stay home and hang out and watch the ball drop. I’ll get some champagne. You want to have people over?
Guy: I gotta watch football all night. The CFB Playoff is on.
Girl: Enjoy kissing the couch cushions at midnight. I think I’ll go … you know … do something not watching television all night on a holiday.
Guy: (sadly looks at couch cushion)
(Note: This is NOT a referendum on women watching sports. It’s merely an exaggeration of a situation. If you’re that easily offended or looking to be offended, this isn’t your column).
I’m going to say something shocking, almost vile to even type, and rarely heard around these parts: ESPN is right.
College football’s institutional arrogance will be on full display this coming New Year’s Eve, and not even the best skullduggery from the Evil Empire of sports entertainment can save us from this fate.
As has made the rounds over the last two weeks in spite of the full-on attempt by everyone with common sense (or rather a financial dog in the fight) to make them see the forest for the trees, the CFB Playoff committee has deemed that playoff games will be on New Year’s Eve. Like a stubborn old man who still uses crank windows, that’s not going to change.
Now, let’s not give ESPN, which has tried to lobby for the CFB Playoff committee to move the date of the games, too much credit for making some ethereal stance based on the best interests of the fans. ESPN is like any other private company, and the bottom line is about the bottom line. It’s just that sometimes, the money aligns with the best interests and then normally everyone wins.
The games are set to start right when you get off work (if you live on Eastern Standard Time and if not, oh well, I guess they don’t need your viewership), and are set to end sometime around when you’re planning to watch the ball drop, tip a bottle of champagne, or do things that people do on NYE.
Executive Director Bill Hancock reaffirmed as much, noting that he didn’t expect as much opposition from television executives that he got, which is sort of baffling. He noted the excitement surrounding the first year of the playoff, conveniently forgetting that when the majority of the working class sports fans are off work, yeah, it’s easier to get that excitement. There’s a reason the NFL plays its games on Sundays.
One of the common themes from this past CFB Playoff season was that it “brought back New Year’s Day,” which the BCS terminally rendered more and more listless by the year. New Year’s Day was always owned by college football and you looked forward to it with extreme excitement.
Holidays are great days for sports leagues of all kinds to grab a hold of. Once upon a time, the NFL (apparently ahead of its generations here) decided to make Thanksgiving Day a staple for football games because … people were off work. Every year since 1920, NFL games have been played on Thanksgiving, with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys being current-day fixtures as hosts. So popular has the day been for the NFL, it added a prime-time contest.
The NBA took the chance at Christmas, and while, no, it’s not the level of the NFL and Christmas is a much more busy holiday than Thanksgiving, it still has strangled the sports-viewing market for those who still want to watch.
College football used to have that with New Year’s Day until the BCS and now this crap. What makes it worse? This coming season, New Year’s Day is a Friday, when the Rose and Sugar Bowl (which shouldn’t be locked in, but are…) can be played. Jan. 2, 2016 is on a Saturday, which, again, is when people are typically OFF OF WORK. There are no NFL games on that Saturday. The playoff semifinals could be played then.
The NFL even has gotten involved apparently, with an eye on eventually expanding the playoffs and having a game on a Monday, when the CFB Playoff is clinging like grim death to Monday for some unknown reason. I don’t care how much muscle the CFB Playoff committee thinks it can flex. It can’t beat the NFL and would be tested for substance abuse if it tried to go up against an NFL playoff game.
But let’s not be totally negative. Why not be solution-oriented? For one, stop with the silliness and just play the playoff games on New Year’s Day instead of locking the Rose and Sugar into that day in the years when those are non-semifinal bowl games. People love college football on that day and it’s perfect because you’ve got everyone working off a hangover on a day off from staying up later than they normally do. With New Year’s Eve, you’re targeting no one other than college students on break, the unemployed, and journalists covering the game, and they’ll be there if you play it at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, so who cares?
The CFB Playoff should be open to playing the title game on a Friday, still for some reason the most avoided night for sports of the week. I’m sure there’s some metrics or numbers or blah, blah, blah that people don’t watch sports then, but the reason they don’t watch it then is because they don’t have the option. Nothing’s scheduled then.
Any bar or restaurant is packed on Friday like no day other than Saturday. People are excited, fired up, and in the mood to get something to hype them up, staring down the barrel at two days off.
According to an article from the Dayton News, 82 percent of employed persons work Monday through Friday, and while numbers are creeping up on weekend work, it still is far behind your traditional work schedules. So why squeeze those folks out or make it harder on them?
College football is screwing with its charm, which is a pretty dicey move considering popularity for the sport couldn’t possibly be higher. If it ain’t broke, you probably should just put the sledgehammer away. Watch ratings drop this year from last year, hard.
And when ratings drop, money drops. When money drops, things get changed. For the sake of the college football fan, we can only hope that will be the case after this next season.