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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Pre-Season Football: Chad Pennington broke his wrist, Michael Vick his leg, and various other star players were seriously injured in the pre-season aka the "too long series of meaningless games that just ask for trouble." I don't really understanding this whining. There are four or so (Jets this year have five, including one in Japan) pre-season games. These games are useful for conditioning, preparing for the regular season, and evaluating talent in real game situations. You obviously need some pre-season games. For instance, Spring Training in baseball might be too long, but it isn't meaningless. Just because they don't count in the standings, the games have various purposes. And, if not four, how many? Two? Is two games enough? The first game will often be badly played, as players get the cobwebs out. Also, it is useful to take a look at backups, and one game often is given to backup QBs. So, I think it is fairly clear that two to three games at least are necessary, probably at least three. One game is not worth that much carping.

And, what will be gained if the pre-season is shortened considerably? More regular season games? First off, two pre-season games are not equivalent to two regular season games as a matter of conditioning, energy levels, ability to perform, and so forth. So, we are not talking about a straight trade here. Also, when would the two games be played? August? I don't think so ... the heat of summer is not an ideal time. January? There must be a reason why games are not played into February, so this would questionable as well. Chopping a week off pre-season might help, but on the other hand, more games might require more training of backups because of the possibilities of injuries to starters will increase. Perhaps not ... either way, game or so won't matter that much.

Anyway, and most importantly, what is the difference if players get hurt in Week One as compared to pre-season? Not much, except that the latter way allows the player to get healthy before the season begins. Finally, Vick got injured not this weekend, but last weekend. And other players got hurt early as well ... so a shortened pre-season wouldn't have helped them! If anything, it would be worse, because some will be back near the beginning of the regular season instead of a few games into it. [In 1999, the Jets lost their QB for the season in Week One ... if it happened in the pre-season, maybe they would have been more prepared, instead of taking weeks to get fully behind Ray Lucas. Either way, the Jet fan wouldn't have felt much worse if Vinny Testaverde got hurt in a "meaningless" game.]

Pre-season is not "meaningless." It might be a week or so too long, but unless a vast majority of the injuries fall in the final game (which the regulars often don't even play in), injuries will continue even if we shorten it. Finally, I don't know if extending the regular season is a good idea (another game probably won't hurt), but it really is irrevelant to the matter at hand. Injuries will happen ... making the pre-season into a scapegoat is silly.