The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States. Millions of people tune in week in and week out to watch their favorite teams play or participate in the phenomenon that is fantasy football.
Professional football has a stranglehold on the United States, one that in recent years it has been exploiting to its fullest.
The most recent exploitation has come on a weekend that is usually celebrated by teams starting their potential runs at the Super Bowl.
Wild Card weekend has come and gone seemingly without a hitch, unless you’re a fan of the losing teams. But if it weren’t for an 11th hour push for ticket sales by the NFL, many fans wouldn’t have been able to watch their teams play.
The NFL threatened to black out the local television markets in the cities hosting wild card games unless their stadiums were completely sold out.
While you wouldn’t expect for it to be difficult to sell out an NFL playoff game, there are two variables that made this task so hard.
Weather and money.
Temperatures in the host cities this time of year aren’t for the faint of heart.
Places like Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Boston, all cities that are scheduled to host playoff games, have below freezing temperatures this time of year. But nothing quite like the legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where wind chill at kickoff of the Packers game against the 49ers Sunday was below zero.
If these unappealing, borderline unsafe temperatures, weren’t enough to turn off the fans from wanting to come out to the games, the outrageous ticket prices could very well have been.
According to a report by “Forbes,” the average ticket prices at Lambeau Field were $349 for Sunday’s game. Not exactly a cheap price for a blue collar town like Green Bay, especially if you want to bring your family or a couple of friends.
By forcing people to purchase tickets to these games just so they aren’t subject to a blackout, the NFL is essentially requiring some fans to put themselves in harm’s way just so their neighbors don’t have to suffer.
In a day and age where the NFL is enforcing rules left and right to protect the players, it seems ironic that they would willingly participate in putting the fans in danger.
A small part of me hoped the NFL would have blacked out one of the games because it could have motivated someone to stand up the big bad NFL. If a corporate sponsor did not buy up the unsold tickets and the blackout had gone into effect fans would not have stood for it. Outcry against the NFL likely would have erupted. Boycotts, riots, who knows what would have happened.
But as it stands, the NFL still has all the power, something that can’t lead to much good in the future.