Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thursday Night Football—Still Trying to Peddle That?

It’s Sunday in early July and all is well at the Rogers Centre (I still call it The Skydome). I’m not there but I’m watching the Blue Jays game on TV on one of the two major sports networks in my home country of Canada. It’s a bit of drive to Toronto from London so I’m like a lot of folks that have “The Game” on the tube on a Sunday afternoon. That’s when sports should be played.

It’s going well. The Jays are giving the visiting team (Minnesota Twins) a good thrashing and the fans are having fun because they’re all doing the wave. They still do that in Toronto. They don’t care that it isn’t considered cool anymore. They’re just having fun as you should on the weekend since most of them worked hard during the week and deserve some good entertainment.

The first base umpire just blew two close calls in a row. Got ‘em both wrong and the fans let him know but it isn’t going to change the outcome of the game. Major League baseball is still so stuck in their ways. I would never ever be an umpire and first base calls can at times be extremely difficult to assess so let them review those on the big screen. The fans get to see them and the slow motion usually makes it very clear as to the correct call. I feel for the guy.

I’m reminded that it soon will be time to start up the NFL season where for years the games were only played on Sunday. I’m not much of a CFL fan since it gets played starting in early summer and ends in November and all the teams really have two rosters—the one they start the season with and the one they field when they pick from the leftovers of the NFL cuts. It’s really hard to support a team that has a revolving door policy for its players.

The NFL in the last few years has decided that it is going to take control of presenting the weekly games and since Monday Night Football was so successful, we are going to dilute it some more by moving that to Sunday Night bring in ESPN to take over Monday night and then we’re going to play games on Thursday night and show them on our own network. It’s a can’t miss plan!!

I don’t think so.

I have spent a lot of years in a marketing role in my work life and had to listen to a lot of strange ideas. I pride myself in the fact that my strength was to implement others' ideas in a manner that overcame the oversights in the original plan. No marketing plan is worth anything unless you can actually make it work on the production floor and distribution network.

So I could imagine the marketing meeting in the NFL head office. “Here’s a great idea. We are going to take our worst mismatch of the week in the schedule and we are going to air it on our own network on Thursday night and we are going to use announcers that nobody really knows. We’ll make a killing on all of the additional revenue we get from people just lining up to sign for our new network”.

(Long Pause)

The smart people in the room are saying to themselves “How the $%^% are we gonna’ pull that off” and the rah rah yes men are panting like huskies getting ready for the Iditarod.

If it wasn’t for Gruden on Monday Night Football, I probably wouldn’t watch because they get the leftovers from the Sunday schedule. NBC with Michaels and Collingsworth get the “gravy” game at night. Dierdorf and Gumbel, and Aikman and Buck usually get the good match ups for that afternoon.

The Thursday night game gets aired on a network that very few US viewers subscribe to so nobody really watches it. We get all of the Thursday and Monday night games in Canada on our sports cable networks simply because you can’t play hockey and curling all year round. It’s hard to keep good ice in the middle of the summer.

And the Jays play in a really tough division so they haven’t made the post season in years. You can only watch “Touch’ em all Joe” so many times and it was a while ago. It was nice to see that Tom Cheek is properly honoured at the Dome for his 27 ½ years of service to the team as their first announcer. His name is on the honour list that circles the stadium that is usually reserved for former players with the number 4306—the number of games he announced without every missing a day!

But back to the NFL, Thursday Night Football gets a big “c’mon Man!!” from me complete with a Chris Carter-like disrobing down to an undershirt but I don’t wear one so it doesn’t have the same comic effect as his did. Not a pretty sight.

When the controlling body of a sport gets too involved in its day-to-day operation, things don’t work out so well. The NHL still flogs the dead horse called the Phoenix Coyotes and runs its day to day operation. NASCAR is forever homogenizing its sport in an “attempt to level the playing field”. Restrictor-plate racing is just plain boring. It does make for a good afternoon nap though.

Well the party just ended at the Dome and all is well—make the final, 11-5 for the home guys (no it wasn’t on that network—something that only Canadian readers would get here).

Now if Sunday just wound up with The Ed Sullivan show then the weekend would be complete but then I would have to go to school tomorrow, Sunday Night Football took over that role but it meant that tomorrow was work.

All parties end at some point.

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