Why does the NFL have preseason games?

Why super fans care about the NFL preseason

Fans who follow their NFL teams care about the preseason. Okay, sure, this may feel a little bit tautological to you — people who care about everything an NFL team does will, of course, care about one of the things their team does but, there is actually some logic to it. Still, the extent to which fans care about the preseason seems unbelievable. A recent NFL preseason game drew over six million TV viewers. The Big Lead ran an article about it entitled, “Terrible preseason football game a ratings bonanza.”¬†While there is some truth to that sentiment, there’s also a legitimate argument for why super fans care so much about the preseason.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet that “brevity is the soul of wit,” a phrase which had to wait hundreds of years for Dorothy Parker to perfect it. Brevity is also the soul of the NFL. The regular season is only 16 games compared to 82 games in NBA basketball and NHL hockey, and a whopping 162 games in MLB baseball. Professional soccer leagues vary, but most play around 35 to 40 games per season plus games in various other leagues or cups. This means that a single NFL game has the same impact on a team’s eventual result as more than two professional soccer games, five NBA or NHL games, and 10 MLB games. It’s important!

Given how much more impact a single game has in the NFL on whether a team has a good season or bad, makes the playoffs or fails, the super fan’s focus on the preseason starts making a little more sense.