Don’t like the idea of Big Ten Friday Night Football? You must be a fan, because you certainly can’t be working in the athletics departments of the participating schools or the conference itself. They’re thrilled by the prospect of six Friday primetime games in 2017 and the extra revenue they’re able to generate because of agreeing to play them.
Your concerns? They’ve been ignored for years and they’ll be ignored this time as well.
Even amongst the schools who didn’t want to take part in the Friday night games, there was an air of defeat about the ever-changing landscape of college football and how there are very few traditions left that conferences aren’t willing to bend or break in order to make more money.
Here’s OSU athletic director Gene Smith laying it all out there for you:
“We battled for a long time to try to be respectful obviously for high school football. But the reality is what we need to do for our television partners and what we need to do for our revenue stream, we needed to consider some different options.”
Things name-checked in that statement: Television partners and revenue streams.
Thing not name-checked in that statement: Student-athletes or concerns about their educations.
The Pac-12 said goodbye to worrying about things like this years ago when they created their network. Their deal with ESPN included eight Thursday or Friday night games, not to mention plenty other non-traditional timeslots.
Instead of looking at what fans wanted, the College Football Playoff tried their damnedest to force you to cancel your New Year’s Eve plans and instead stay home to watch college football. The only reason that tradition died a quick death was because you didn’t. You proved to them there was no money in it, so they stopped.
It’s not just college football, of course. The ultimate sign of sacrifice on the matter has to be the fact that the All-Star Game now influences who hosts the World Series. Major League Baseball was willing to tinker with their crown jewel (which they figured you’ll watch anyway) in order to goose ratings for their mid-season exhibition game.
The NFL has been doing this for years (though it finally seems like you might have decided enough is enough). Young NFL fans probably don’t remember the days when you had one game on Monday Night and everything else on Sunday. Now, depending on the week, you might get two Monday Night games, a Thursday game, and even some Saturday games. There are games across the ocean and games seemingly at all hours. Did you want to enjoy some free time with your family? Well too bad, there’s football on.
None of this might be bad to you. You might be someone who likes have the opportunity to watch important sports just about every day of the week. For you, this whole scenario is a bonus. But if you don’t, well, the leagues don’t really care. They know they’ve got your vote, so to speak. They’re going hunting for ways to attract…well, no one’s really sure. Aren’t all the people interested in that particular sport already watching that particular sport?
To say nothing of the way college athletes are affected by an abundance of mid-week games. Gone are the days when someone could count on a weekly schedule to figure out when they’re going to train, when they’re going to study, and when they’re going to play. Now you’re at the mercy of ESPN or Fox or whoever else decided you’d make a better fit on Friday night than Saturday afternoon amongst the crowds.
So if you’re a Big Ten fan upset about the idea of your team playing on Friday nights, you don’t really have a choice but to get used to it. Your conference invited Rutgers in an attempt to get New York City interested, for God’s sake. There’s nothing they won’t sacrifice in order to monetize their product. You can complain all you like…but you’ll be there Friday night buying in.