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What example do Friday night NFL games set for younger players?

The National Football League has proposed expanding the season to include Friday night playoff games. One former player and parent says that there are dangers in adopting a longer season, including potentially more injuries for players and a bad model for the sport.

Julio Cortez/AP
Workers shovel snow off the seating area at MetLife Stadium as crews removed snow ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII following a snow storm on Jan. 22.

The idea of expanding the National Football League playoffs to include Friday night games may be great for building the brand, but parents may find that more isn’t better when it comes to the effect on young viewers, family time, and player safety. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on the NFL Network the possibility of “an expanded playoff format with six games during the wild card weekend might include three games each on Saturday and Sunday, or it might include a Friday night game and a Monday night game.”

At first, I thought it might be great to have playoffs on a non-school night for a change, so the kids could be up late watching with us.

Then I began to consider the trickle-down effect of what expanded playoffs in the NFL could mean to college, high school, and even pee-wee league football as well as the amount of time we all spend obsessing on one sport.

I called up a local teacher in Norfolk, Va., where we live, Derek S. Allen, a former NFL tight end who played with the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and the Arizona Cardinals in the 1990s. He raised some valid concerns about the potential effects of expanding the season.

“As a fan, more football is always great, but as a parent and former player, adding more games to their season is not going to add to player safety anywhere,” said Mr. Allen. “This is all about money and feeding the money machine. Adding games at the NFL sends the wrong message. Too much of a good thing.…”

Allen’s warnings might be worth considering, as many high school and college programs take their lead from the NFL, especially as it serves as one of the largest money-making sports for many schools.

Increasing involvement in sports, including football, for kids is a big deal, but pushing players harder for longer, could set a bad example for kids. Preparing for the Super Bowl next weekend, we’re excited to watch one of America’s great sporting events. But we have to ask ourselves as families, are we ready for some MORE football?

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