Predicting what happens next week is a fool’s errand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Planning for the fall is even more precarious. With so many unknowns, the NFL is preparing for multiple contingencies for its upcoming season — including one that reportedly involves Saturday football.
One of the possibilities for the fall would see the NFL carry on with its schedule while college football does not. According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, the NFL would consider staging Saturday games in that instance to fill the void and take advantage of a football-hungry audience.
Marchand cites anonymous sources confirming that the league has floated the idea with broadcast partners. The NFL declined to comment.
Why would NFL play while college sits idle?
On the surface, it seems that if conditions wouldn’t allow for college football games to take place, then the same would apply to the NFL. But the NFL is a private business with paid labor that has a clearer path to the field — with or without fans in the stands.
The broadcast stakes are higher for the NFL as well, adding extra motivation to stage games even if fans aren’t invited.
Things are more complicated in college. There’s a real possibility that colleges don’t open their campuses to students this fall. If there’s no college, it’s going to be difficult to justify college football, especially considering that the game depends on putting unpaid players at risk.
That’s a hurdle the NFL obviously does not have to clear. Though there’s obviously no guarantee that the NFL will play this fall either.
What about the upcoming schedule release?
It adds up to an unlikely scenario but one that has to be considered. And if the NFL does proceed without its college counterpart, then it’s a no-brainer to shift some games to Saturdays.
The NFL is scheduled to announce its fall schedule on May 9, though the league is reportedly considering delaying the announcement.
Even if there is a delay, the fate of the college season isn’t likely to be known by the time the NFL does announce its schedule, meaning that the league would have to leave some flexibility to move games if it does plan to take advantage of potential college-free Saturdays.
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