Biggest rip-off in sports: Pre-season football at regular season prices
Convenience fees on tickets that are definitely inconvenient on your wallet. $5 hot dogs and $9 beers. Personal Seat Licenses. The NBA regular season. There are many scams in sports today, but is there a greater one than pre-season NFL games at regular season prices?
The Chicago Bears played the Browns last night in their final exhibition game, and fans got to pay regular prices to watch a bunch of back-ups fight for roster spots. Most won't make it, and those that do will mostly see action on special teams. So I guess I'll answer my own question: Yes, it IS the biggest rip-off in sports.
I'm a Bears season-ticket holder, so I get the eight regular season home games but am also required to buy tickets for the two exhibition (the NFL hates that word!) games, and at the same prices. It's a cruel joke for fans. In last night's game, new Bears quarterback Jay Cutler handed off six times and then took a seat. He later joked that he didn't even really bother warming up... at least I think he was joking.
The truth is these games, especially the final one when most of the starters play little or not at all, are nothing more than a money-grab by the teams and the league. They don't reduce prices for tickets or parking or beers because the star running back never got off the bench.
Of course you could argue that you don't have to go to these games, and I don't. But as a season-ticket holder you're locked in to paying for them. So my partner and I try to sell our tickets, and this year we actually got buyers for some of them at face value. We usually have to offer them at half price, and even then get stuck with some.
One year I stopped at the local Boys and Girls Club and gave them to the guy at the front desk. He was thankful but I almost felt guilty ... 'Here, take my tickets to this game you couldn't pay me to go to. Hope the kids have fun.'
I know there has been discussion about eliminating one or two of the pre-season games and expanding the regular season schedule to 17 or 18 games (the NFL will never give up those pay days). I don't like the idea of expanding the season because I think it waters down the product and will create more medicore, meaningless games - for more of my thoughts on that go here.
What I would prefer is that the NFL stop insulting our intelligence and stealing from our wallets by pretending these games are significant and then charging us full price for them. They are exhibitions, practice games, and fans should receive a break on them.
The pre-season is necessary, but if the league and the teams want to at all combat the image that their only priority is filling their own coffers, then they should make a change. The fans deserve it.