One of the many funny things about the NFL, besides the constant rule changes and so-called commitment to safety, is how certain franchises think they hold the patent on “real football” and “real football fans.” No two organizations trumpet their own realness more than the Pittsburgh Steelers (who didn’t make the playoffs) and the Green Bay Packers (who barely squeaked in thanks to the awfulness of their division).
It would appear that Packers fans, real as they are, didn’t think their team really had much of a chance at making the postseason. How else to explain why there were more than 7,000 tickets available as of Wednesday afternoon?
If they don’t sell all those tickets by 12:40 pm PST today, the lovely folks in Green Bay won’t be able to watch Sunday’s game from the comfort of their living rooms.
Even though so much of the Packers’ identity is based on the FROZEN TUNDRA OF LAMBEAU FIELD (thank you, Chris Berman), perhaps the expected HIGH of 4 degrees is scaring people away. But this isn’t just a cold-weather thing.
The Bengals (Sunday’s forecast: 39 degrees and rain/snowing) and Colts (indoor kids) are also finding it difficult to sell tickets to their playoff games this weekend, according to ESPN, so maybe the Wild Card Round isn’t the greatest draw. Attending NFL games is an ordeal. You’ve got to plan food, transportation (i.e. find a designated driver), and a come up with a decent amount of money in a short period of time. If the Divisional and Conference Championship rounds are college and the Super Bowl is graduate school, the Wild Card Round is junior college, and nobody wants to pay to go to junior college.
This lack of interest, at least from a ticket-buyer’s point of view, flies in the face of the NFL’s idea that the playoffs should be expanded. There has to be a point where the television ratings will suffer if the games are sparsely attended, and if the NFL is having trouble selling tickets to the lower-level playoff games now, it would surely be worse if two more teams were added to the postseason tournament from each conference.
But TV is all that matters, so the NFL is probably prepared to start giving away playoff tickets if that’s what it takes.
I checked out the ticket prices, and the Packers aren’t giving away tickets since the lowest prices are $102 per seat before fees. But the Packers can’t exactly feel great about the lack of fan support this week, regardless of weather or regular season record.
The players read all about this stuff. It probably sounds silly to some, but a large portion of the Atlanta Braves’ postseason struggles stem from a group of fans who are in permanent “show me” mode. It’s pretty difficult to believe in yourself if the people who generally idolize you aren’t willing to show up and cheer you on to victory in the games that truly matter. And for a team like the Packers, who’ve never been aligned with the term “blackout,” this has got to be either a rallying cry or a signal that the fans noticed they gave up nine more points than they scored during the regular season.
This whole Green Bay thing is really tempting me to drop everything and buy some tickets to Sunday’s game. I’ve always wanted to attend a game at Lambeau, but the airfare, plus rental car from Milwaukee, plus hotel, plus the holy-crap-I’ve-never-been-in-temperatures-below-20-degrees-I-might-die factor are strong deterrents. If I’m going to spend ungodly sums to attend a playoff game, it makes sense to wait until the Divisional or Championship Game rounds, no?