Most fans will agree that four preseason games are more than we all care to tolerate (or five if your team is in the Hall of Fame Game). But while most fans are down on preseason games, the reality is they remain a necessary evil. The exercise is useful in identifying the bottom quarter of a roster, developing chemistry, and acclimating players back to game speed prior to week 1 of the regular season. Without these reps, the quality of play early on could suffer significantly. But while I’m willing to concede that preseason is still needed in some form, there’s no question the product on the field is severely inferior. Of course the word “preseason” serves as a disclaimer to that. Still, when you see players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and a slew of other superstars sitting the first game out with either no injury or something minor, it begs the question: “why am I paying regular season prices for this?”.
Of course, the NFL’s regular season product is so incredible, the owners are able to sell out the season in most cities and therefore charge regular season prices for the preseason games too as part of the package. Fans are held hostage. If you want season tickets for the regular season, you have to purchase preseason tickets at regular season prices.
As a season ticket holder myself, I find the idea of paying the same price for games that are roughly one quarter the excitement and quality (or less) to be a slap in the face. But it gets worse. Because I live a fairly significant distance away from my favorite team, I can’t make it back for all the games and I end up selling my tickets for many of them. The NFL encourages you use NFL Ticket Exchange as a means to sell your tickets, and for the most part season ticket holders use it exclusively because you can credit your account directly with any sales. Depending on where you sit, most of the tickets have a minimum price you can list them at. Therein lies the problem. No one in their right mind is going to spend that minimum for preseason games, and every season those tickets are impossible to unload via Ticket Exchange. There are other alternatives, of course, but for the price NFL season ticket holders are paying the NFL shouldn’t make life difficult on them. That, and many people aren’t resourceful enough (or are too lazy) to figure out the other ways to move their seats with zero value when they’ll spend the entire regular season using NFL Ticket Exchange. As a season ticket holder of two seats, I’m basically buying 20 seats for the season (10 games x 2 seats each) and flushing four of them down the toilet. I’m never going to go back for preseason games, and I’m unable to sell the tickets at the minimum price. Even on the unlikely occasion where a dumb fan purchases my tickets at the minimum price for preseason, I almost feel sorry for them. With a little research they could have gotten into the stadium for a fraction of the price.
Everyone has an opinion on what the NFL should do with preseason and most agree the current format is overkill. That aside I still maintain the NFL’s biggest crime with preseason is the price charged for these games, holding season ticket holders hostage by forcing them to commit if they want the real product. Pushing NFL Ticket Exchange in an effort to force fans to unload tickets under their control, then unrealistically trying to impose a capped floor market on the price of the unwanted tickets makes the intent behind the crime even more unacceptable. The owners don’t care, of course, why should they? They’re making regular season money on preseason product at the expense of the fan’s experience. That kind of arrogance is bad business practice, though, and it’s a microcosm of a wider ethical direction (or lack thereof) that could come back to bite them one day.