5 Pros and Cons of Thursday Night Games
Thursday night college football games are different than Saturday games. Some things are good. Some things are bad. But Thursday night games aren’t going away. You can only make the best of them.
Pros of Thursday Night Games
- Money Thursday night games usually involves a significant payday for the participating schools. The higher ratings help the conferences when it comes time to negotiate the paydays from networks for exclusive deals to broadcast their games. The extra exposure doesn’t hurt either, when trying to attract recruits or money from alumni. (Just not money from alumni to the recruits. The NCAA frowns on that. A lot.)
- Exclusive TV coverage of your favorite team on prime-time TV. Well, it used to be exclusive but now it is more like near exclusive coverage. There are only a couple of games on and basically one or two notable games. So your team will have lots of prime time love from ESPN. And now the NFL has jumped in with their own Thursday night games, diluting the Thursday night exclusivity pro. Still, you are competing against a much smaller slate of games than you would be on a typical Saturday afternoon.
- Unique Atmosphere I’ve never been able to figure it out, but most of the time there is a special excitement to a Thursday night game. A special buzz in the air. Maybe it is the shortened tailgate time (a con) but the tailgate becomes a sprint. Maybe more liquor than beer? Whatever, the fans are excited.
- Free Saturday to Watch Other Games or complete the honey-do list, pick your poison. I know I have a long list of maintenance items that I need to address on the RV and the Thursday night game gives me an excellent weekend opportunity to get some RV projects done. While watching football. That I don’t have to pay close attention to like I would my own team. Or you know, nap time.
- Extended Time Before the Next Game Bad for fans, but good for players and coaches. The extra couple of days to recover from the bumps and bruises (or more serious injuries) can be crucial. Also, time for the coaching staff to prepare for the next game. Isn’t this why South Carolina loves to start the season with a Thursday night game? To see where the team is after playing another team in actual competition. Since GT has a unique offense, teams love to have those extra couple of days to prepare for us, whether it is due to a Thursday night game or a bye week.
Cons of Thursday Night Games
- Abbreviated Tailgate Time Most Thursday night games mean a shortened tailgate – most people can’t take Thursday off to spend the day tailgating like they do on a Saturday. The lucky ones get a half day of tailgating. And most will have to go back to work on Friday, which means they have to reign in the drinking and post-game tailgating. We aren’t college kids that can show up to work drunk or hungover. Unfortunately. (Fortunately?) In any case, we are missing out on some valuable tailgating time in the name of adult responsibility and work.
- Harder Travel for Road Games If the Thursday night game is a road game, it is less likely that a large contingent of your fans will be able to make it. Just too hard with work and school. Unfortunately for Tech, this week’s Thursday night opponent is from right up the interstate from us – Clemson. They already have a lot of fans in the Atlanta area that are likely to make it. Then again, their tractors may get stuck in Atlanta traffic.
- Parking, especially on a city campus like Georgia Tech, can be difficult. We don’t have large fields to spread out on, so our tailgate lots are regular parking during the week. When they overlap, there are problems. Often, there is a conflict between those that pay for parking as students or staff and those that pay for parking as alumni and fans. We all want the same spots. Usually, if you are in a “staff” parking lot, they can use football as an excuse to leave early. But then there are those professors that just don’t like college football and what it does to the school. And those guys will make your tailgating life as difficult as possible. Doubly so on Thursday afternoons.
- Missing Classes by the football team, cheerleaders, and other game day students. This means making up tests, homework assignments and other class related work. While most professors will work with the players and others, it doesn’t always work. Especially for your normal student fans that just want to go watch their friends and classmates play the game.
- Did I mention Friday morning at work? Ugh. Double ugh if your team loses.
Coach Rich Rodriguez once called Thursday night games “unnatural” back when he was at West Virginia. They definitely require a different perspective than a Saturday game, but once in awhile they are kind of fun. Some times, different is good. Just don’t go overboard with two or more in a season because well, as fans, we still like our traditional Saturday games.