Let’s just say the 2017 season hasn’t bee kind to the National Football League. Ratings and attendance are down, people are actively boycotting the league, and there’s really no end in sight for any of us. After all, as long as players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, some folks just won’t watch the games on Sunday.
Now, the league has announced it has canceled it’s final Sunday Night game of the season. According to CNN Money, “Next Sunday’s game had two disadvantages: The games all had a likelihood of being dull by the time Sunday night rolled around. And this coming Sunday is New Year’s Eve, a day when historically few Americans watch television.”
“The last time the NFL held a Sunday night football game on New Year’s Eve was in 2006, when the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers,” CNN explained. “It was expected to be quarterback Brett Favre’s last game with the Packers (and widely expected to be his last game ever). Still, only 13.4 million people watched that game, about a quarter fewer than the average Sunday Night Football game that season.”
“Since the last Sunday night football game also happens to be the final game of the season, the NFL tries to schedule a game that will definitely have playoff implications for one or both of the teams playing. (A team that already made the playoffs might sit their starters, leading to an exceptionally boring game.),” the article concluded.
That 2006 game also came at a time when people were still thrilled about the league. NFL officials had to know that even if a division were still up for grabs in the Sunday night game, no one was going to watch even under the best of circumstances, and New Year’s Eve is hardly the best of circumstances.
While a percentage of viewers—roughly 25 percent—might tune in, we’d likely just see how far the NFL has fallen this season.
After all, as an Atlanta Falcons fan, it was painful to see the team’s brand new stadium almost vacant during games despite the team being the defending NFC champs and boasting a winning record. Yes, this year’s Falcons are a pale imitation of last year’s team, but there was no reason for the attendance to be that bad. We’re not talking about the Giants or Browns, for crying out loud.
One can only imagine how much worse it would be for a Sunday night game on New Year’s Eve… and don’t think that didn’t play into the league’s decision. An empty stadium for a team in the playoff hunt? Not a pretty picture at all.
Meanwhile, it seems the league is completely at a loss for how to deal with the situation so they don’t repeat the anemic ratings next year. It seems NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s strategy has been to wait and hope people forget, which doesn’t sound like a winning plan.
He and his brain trust need to get together and figure out a solution, otherwise, a New Year’s Eve game no one would watch will be the least of the league’s worries.