By Ken Reed
The National Football League is three-fourths through its preseason (read: exhibition) schedule, which means NFL fans are three-fourths through the latest version of one of the greatest fan scams in sports history.
Season-ticket holders — pro football’s most loyal fans — across the country continue to be forced (extorted would actually be the more accurate term) by NFL owners to pay full price for preseason games, a training camp product that bears little resemblance to regular season games. Basically, NFL preseason games are scrimmages in which a team’s starters either don’t play at all, or play one or two quarters of the game. Preseason games are are held in big stadiums and and the players don sharper uniforms than what they wear in practice but those are the only things that differentiate these exhibitions from training camp scrimmages.
This year’s preseason games have the added bonus of featuring substitute referees as the NFL continues to deal with its labor impasse with the regular game officials. The majority of the subs are clearly out of their element.
The price of the cheapest ticket for these fiascos is $50 or more, with most tickets going in the $100+ range. Parking and concessions cost the same as they do for December games having playoff implications.
The upcoming Week 4 slate of preseason games might be the ultimate example of sticking it to the fans. Virtually every team’s head coach has stated that their starters will be rested this week and not play. Which means that fans will be paying full-price — a price point that leaves low-income and increasingly middle-income families on the outside — for a game that will feature a lot of players who will be cut in the next couple weeks and won’t even be wearing an NFL uniform when the regular season actually begins.
The NFL policy of forcing fans to pay full-price for these meaningless scrimmages is further proof that NFL owners’ greed knows no bounds.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon