When the Bengals play the Washington Redskins this Sunday in London, not only will the Bengals be losing a home game, but they will also be losing many of their fans who typically spend their Sunday mornings doing other things, such as sleeping in, catching up on work, going for a jog, spending quality time with family, or attending a church service.
Although not always easy, sleep schedules can be adjusted, to a degree. For those who sleep in on the weekends, a 9:30 a.m. start time should be manageable as long as it is planned for. But that is for fans on the east coast. Fans on the west coast have a 6:30 a.m. start time for the London games. Cincy Jungle has many dedicated readers and writers who live on the west coast, and are facing an insanely early start time to watch their favorite team. For those who spend Sunday morning “sleeping off” a late Saturday night, they will have to decide which priority wins out - Saturday night or the Bengals.
Some wives are known as a “Sunday widow” because they lose their husbands to the NFL all day Sunday with a full slate of games from 1 p.m. until almost midnight. To accommodate for this, some Sunday mornings are used as quality time with family members before the NFL begins. But with a very early start time for the Bengals’ game, this opening vanishes, along with the NFL’s pitch that “football is family”.
Those who engage in Sunday morning activities face their own challenges - some of which are flexible, and some that are not so much. Grass can be cut and leaves can be raked whenever you have light outside. Walking and biking my be more cumbersome in the afternoon with more traffic, but not impossible. But something like a church service usually isn’t as flexible. With the Bengals’ game running approximately from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, it will overlap just about every worship service that fans would normally attend.
According to recent studies, about half of all Americans regularly go to church on Sunday. So it would be a reasonable assumption that approximately half of the people who watch NFL games fit into this category and attend church in the morning, and follow that up by watching their favorite team afterward. Most NFL games are afternoon or evening affairs, so there is no conflict for the millions of Americans who typically do both. But for Bengals’ and Redskins’ fans, this Sunday, the NFL is forcing them to choose one or the other. And this doesn’t just go for church goers, but for all fans with inflexible Sunday morning commitments.
When faced with the dilemma of attending a regular weekly worship service or watch their favorite team, which would most fans choose? A recent study by Lifeway Research posed this very question. The Bengals 9:30 a.m. ET start time makes this question a very relevant one for Bengals’ fans – especially the throngs of fans who usually don’t have to choose one or the other. From that 2015 survey, here’s what respondents said:
I would skip a weekly worship service to watch my favorite football team
- 68% Strongly Disagree
- 15% Somewhat Disagree
- 10% Somewhat Agree
- 5% Strongly Agree
- 2% Not Sure
There are several interesting takeaways from the results of this survey. The first is that the response is more lopsided that I had expected, with only 15 percent giving the game a higher priority, and a mere five percent strongly putting the game first. Assuming Bengals’ fans are pretty much like other fans across the nation, this means that the NFL’s decision to schedule the Bengals’ game at a 9:30am start time will result in many Bengals’ fans missing the game. In theory, only two out of every eleven Bengals’ fans will be skipping a church service to watch the Bengals’ game. It is perhaps a little disappointing that the NFL would move games, such as the Bengals game, to such an early start time, realizing that it will cause many of the team’s devoted fans to miss the game. The second takeaway from this survey is that the phrase “important commitment” could probably replace “worship service”, and the results would likely be similar. Bengals’ fans love their team, but many of them have higher priorities on Sunday morning, be it golf or sleep, or anything in between.
Many have criticized the NFL for how it treated concussions, and seemingly put profits above player safety. Some also grumbled about adding a Thursday night game exclusively on the NFL Network as another move that put profits atop the list of priorities, since it forced fans to pay for pricey cable and satellite packages which included the NFL Network, or miss their favorite team when they were playing on Thursday night. And now the league scheduling games on Sunday mornings seems to be another instance of placing profits above other considerations - in this case, many of the fans.
These international games are starting at 1:30 p.m. London time, and one would think that the games could start a few hours later to accommodate the American viewers who want to see their favorite team. But that won’t happen because the games would run into their early afternoon slate of games, and this overlap would limit the total amount of time the NFL will be televised throughout the day on Sunday, and thus limit advertising dollars. Getting international exposure, and yet one more game slotted on Sunday (in addition to the early afternoon, late afternoon, and night) are all moves to generate revenues, but do not serve the many Bengals fans, and Redskins fans, who will end up missing part or all the game on Sunday.
So if you regularly sleep in, do yard work, go to church, or have some other regularly scheduled Sunday morning activity, the NFL has given you dilemma - adjust your life to watch your Bengals, or miss the game.
Feel free to share with us which will you choose, and why.