Monday Night Football Flex Scheduling is Going to Screw with Fans and Travel
Adam Schefter had a couple of the NFL’s broadcasting folks on his most recent podcast.
The pair, Mike North and Onnie Bose, revealed that flex scheduling is coming to Monday Night Football in 2023:
Starting in 2023, ESPN’s Monday Night Football finally will include flex scheduling from Weeks 14-18, and also will feature three Monday Night Football doubleheaders, per the NFL’s V.P. of broadcast scheduling, Mike North. That and more here:
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 16, 2022
This seems smart on the surface. Flex scheduling gives us quality games on Sunday night and puts the most relevant matchups into the premier time slot. Why not do it on Monday night as well?
My immediate thought here is that getting flexed in or out of a MNF slot screws with fans who bought tickets and/or booked travel for a game. What happens if you planned a trip to Vegas for Week 15, but the Raiders stink, so two other teams get flexed into that slot instead? You’re either booking another night in the hotel, changing a flight, asking for another day off of work, or vice versa. It just seems like the moving parts are going to scare fans away from making plans for that last 25% of the season.
I checked in with a source who works in the travel business and they noted that beyond airfare and hotel you have to book charter buses to transport fans, and those can be difficult to reschedule. This source personally believes that the owners are “a bunch of dumbasses” and that the NFL “makes this shit harder than they need to.”
“While that could be bad news for fans who will try to attend games that were originally scheduled for Monday night, North said that they plan to schedule those December MNF games the same way they handle “Sunday Night Football” games. When a game is placed in one of those prime time spots, it’s a game they’re “counting on” to be played. North said that they flex games into SNF very rarely, and they plan to use the same philosophy with MNF.”
This would be nice, and for context related to that notion, here are the final four weeks of Monday Night Football in 2022:
- Patriots at Cardinals
- Rams at Packers
- Chargers at Colts
- Bills at Bengals
That’s what, seven postseason teams from last year? You’d think all of those squads would be in the playoff picture during those respective weeks, so theoretically you might not have to flex out of anything at all. But you never know, the Chargers and Colts could both wind up stinking and you want to put another matchup in that slot. So if you’re a Chargers fan (do they have fans?) that booked a trip to Indy, now you’re having to adjust on the fly. Or even if you’re an Indy fan, what if you schedule something on Sunday? What if your mom’s birthday party is now conflicting with the Colts game? You then find yourself selling your tickets online.
The current rule stipulates that teams must be given 12 days notice when flexing, which can’t be done outside of Sundays:
Just as the six major college football conferences have done for many years, the NFL has the flexibility to move the start times of games on Sundays, using a 12-day notice format.
For example, a game scheduled for a Sunday could move from a 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff to an 8:15 p.m. start, but the change would be made and announced no later than the prior Tuesday, 12 days prior. Sunday afternoon games, as in the past, can still be moved between 1:00 and 4:05 or 4:25 p.m. ET.
Beyond the fan thing, you have to think about what it might mean for the teams. Getting flexed off Monday night gives you one fewer day to recover. Getting flexed TO Monday night does the opposite. Think of the myriad examples related to that.
There’s a lot to think about here. It seems like a good idea on the surface but there will be a lot of wrinkles to iron out.