Don't blame Packers for another game conflicting with high school games
Lambeau Field. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
For the second straight year, the Green Bay Packers will host a preseason game on the same Friday night as the opening of high school football in Wisconsin.
Though you may want to throw your anger at the Packers for that fact, it's most probably not their fault.
Friday night high school football is part of our sports and educational culture in the fall, and the Wisconsin fan base is again being asked to make choices on the third weekend of August.
But to direct wrath and shame upon Packers President Mark Murphy and the folks at 1265 Lombardi Avenue is not just useless, but ludicrous.
Instead, direct it at a pair of buildings four blocks away from each other in midtown Manhattan: 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY - the offices of the National Football League, and CBS Headquarters, 51 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY.
"The league just says, ‘This is when you’re playing,’ ” Murphy told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 2013.
Why does it say that? National television.
When the NFL coordinates the preseason schedules, the television networks pick which games they want to televise. They also pick the times they want those games.
Why? Because they're paying billions of dollars for the rights to broadcast those games.
Those billions are what allow teams like the Packers to afford nine-figure contracts with superstars like Aaron Rodgers.
For the NFL to be able to extract those billions from the networks, they have to let the networks decide when the most fans will watch, so they can make the most ad revenue that they can to recoup the cost.
It's like what Bear Bryant once reportedly told an ABC executive, that the network was paying the University of Alabama so much to have the right to broadcast the game, that if the network wants to kick off at 2:00 a.m., he'd gladly do it.
So it is today - with billions more at stake.
The NFL is also the reason Major League Baseball starts World Series games on Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. instead of day baseball, because MLB knows the biggest games in their sport can't compete with the NFL in terms of television ratings.
That means the day baseball tradition of the World Series falls by the wayside.
Do you think high school football - a fantastic and wonderful tradition on Friday nights - stands a chance to halt the bean counters in Manhattan if the networks say they want to schedule a Friday night game?
It's certainly my long term hope that the Packers make it a point not to schedule preseason home games in the future that compete with high school football.
But if the networks come with their demands, Mark Murphy has no choice. The Packers must play when they say to play.
High school football in Wisconsin will survive this, and it will thrive in Wisconsin as it has for years, just like the Packers.