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The NFL, the most popular American sport’s league, is expanding their season for the first time in 43 years. While they are expanding their season, they are taking two games away from the preseason which, technically, shortens the season by one game. In reality, however, the preseason is a lot different than the regular season, and the truth is that starters and stars are adding one game to an already physically demanding yearly schedule.

There are a lot of reasons to do this, but the biggest reason is money. Adding an extra game to the schedule allows players to receive an additional game check, owners to receive the proceeds from another game, and the league in general to make billions on television rights. Money drives businesses, and this is simply a case of making more money without a lot of risk once the preseason games are taken from the schedule.

There are also reasons not to add the seventeenth game. If the league truly believes that injuries and long-term brain issues for players is a threat, then adding six percent more games to the schedule every year does not make sense. This is especially different in the year following Covid and before knowing how packed stadiums can be in the coming year. Two teams were already added to the playoff slate each year, and it is not clear how a seventeenth game will affect the competitive balance and playoff schedule as well. In the end, however, money trumps other issues and the vote was an easy one to pass.

For the NFL, this is a great marketing move. The CBA is agreed to through the 2030 season, so there is about 9 years to see if this schedule will work long term. The NFL has also stated that this is the perfect opportunity to expand the league’s international reach. If the NFL wants to grow, the American market is virtually saturated. Another aspect of this new 17 game schedule is that, starting in 2022, every team in the NFL will be required to play at least one international game every eight years. As of now, the Jacksonville Jaguars play in London every year, but this new requirement will force every team to become international advocates for the game they love.