Blacking Out

By Chris

Let’s say you really like this one band. In addition to touring around the country, this band plays 18 shows every year in a stadium near your house. They play more shows in your city than anywhere else in the world. That’s one of the biggest reasons you even like this band in the first place.

However, the first four shows they play are always warm-up performances. Two of these shows are always played in your town. The members of the band often only play a few songs during these warm-up shows before turning it over to less-talented musicians who may or may not end up on tour. During shows 5-20, the lead members of the band play full sets and only occasionally are the back-ups required to take over.

The fourth show of the year is always the worst. The band you like comes out, plays one song and then turns to the scrubs for the remainder of the concert. You pay just as much for this show as the other 17 and a lot of the guys playing the fourth show are let go afterwards.

That fourth show is the fourth game of the NFL preseason.

We’ll watch tonight’s game between the Bills and Lions with interest because if the bass player, the backup bass player and the backup’s backup bass player go down during the season, we can say we know something about the guy coming in.

The third and fourth stringers are usually the story of these final preseason games, mostly because they get the most playing time and they’re the ones whose jobs are on the line. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These guys should get some publicity.

Coaches need to find out which guys can really play and having solid depth in football can make or break a season. They need to make sure the guys standing on the sidelines can make a play or two when called upon.

And the fourth preseason game is a great showcase for these players. The starters don’t want to risk injury by staying in the game too long and the guys on the fringe have one final opportunity to make an impression.

While the way personnel is managed makes sense to the business, it’s not fair to the customer.

Tonight’s game is blacked out so if you’re not attending or not picking up a feed of the game by surreptitious means, you really won’t know what happened until the game re-airs tomorrow night. Because for some reason, these meaningless preseason games are held to the same standard as regular season games when it comes to the box office. And really, the standard that only sellouts can be televised should be changed too.

The expectation is that every single seat of the final preseason game, in which half the guys playing will be cut next week, will be sold.

Your cheapest seat on Ticketmaster, “the official ticket exchange of the NFL,” for the Lions game tonight is $45. Now that’s the price the NFL wants you to pay and (correct me if I’m wrong) the price season ticket holders pay.

You pay that much for a game that will probably have the starters (also known as the most talented players in the game) see 6-10 plays if you’re lucky. That sounds like a great deal.

Paying those prices for preseason games in football is kind ridiculous to begin with. In some cases, paying anything to go is just as crazy. There are still blocks of $2 seats available on Stubhub for a reason.

At least the Bills have Kids Day during the preseason where discounted tickets are available for families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to a game. But the two preseason games should be cheaper and much more accessible to everyone.

I’m not going tonight so I shouldn’t be able to see how the Bills do until tomorrow night. I can read accounts of the game, listen to other people’s takes and catch a few highlights on the news in the meantime. That should be the extent of my knowledge of the game.

But like I said, there are other ways. And I’m sure a bunch of people will look to those devices when kickoff rolls around (or into the back of the end zone). People love to watch their team.

Thank goodness bands don’t play preseason concerts.

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  1. By Web Rumblings: Buffalo Bills News, 9/3 | Sports Feedr September 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM