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


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