People are upset the Indianapolis Colts will be showcased on prime time only once during the upcoming NFL season. They are insulted that one prime time game will be played in Nashville, Tennessee, and not in our hometown.
But I am thrilled.
From a pragmatic perspective, it was unreasonable to expect more. The Colts play in a small market, have no stars, and finished with a 7-9 record in 2019. What part of that equation yields great television ratings?
That’s the game for the networks and NFL. It’s not about football; it’s all math. Ratings equal revenue, and revenue is what ESPN, NBC, Fox, CBS, and the NFL Network covet.
Okay, so that’s the pragmatic argument against the Colts playing a bunch of prime time games like Tampa, Kansas City, and Chicago. Revenue potential is the name of the game – not the grading of cities and their people.
My love for the schedule is driven by my feelings about Sundays at 1 p.m. being reserved for Colts football. When the Colts play at a different time, I don’t know what to do with myself. Watching Carolina vs. Atlanta or the Jets at Miami is not what I want for three hours of entertainment in the middle of a Sunday.
A few years ago, my son’s friends would come over for “Sundays at the Sterlings.” We had betting sheets and Taco Bell for everyone, but only when the Colts played at 1 p.m. on Sundays. Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights were school nights, so our fun was restricted to Sunday afternoons.
When I was a kid in Chicago, Sundays at noon meant kickoff for the Bears as long as they weren’t playing on the west coast or making one of their rare Monday Night Football appearances.
I’m a creature of habit, and my primary habit on autumn Sunday afternoons is watching my NFL team of choice beat the hell out of interlopers from another town.
As far the belief that the rest of America doesn’t care about Indianapolis – the rest of America cares about Indianapolis in the exact same proportion people in Indianapolis care about Columbus, Ohio, or St. Louis, Missouri, which is to say zero. We care about our city, and others care about their city.
Indianapolis is a hell of a great city. I’m from Chicago originally, and I speak from experience when I tell people from both cities that the quality of life is much better in Indianapolis. People here empathize with their neighbors at a level Chicagoans cannot begin to contemplate. Chicago is built upon a foundation of graft and corruption, while Indianapolis is built on a desire to embrace sports and kindness as their chief economic drivers.
There are flaws in Indianapolis, just as there are wonders in Chicago. But overall – give me Indy’s flaws over Chicago’s magic every time.
The point is not to crap on Chicago, but to tell those in Indy that there is no need for the NFL to ordain our city as worthy, whatever that is. It’s the people in Indianapolis that make it special, and Roger Goodell’s stamp of approval is beyond unnecessary to stamp us as virtuous.
The NFL’s schedule works for me and those like me who love watching Colts games at 1 p.m. I’m pleased with one prime time game. I’m envious of only Detroit and Washington, who have no prime time games.
Instead for feeling ignored by the NFL and its network partners, Colts fans should feel graced for the opportunity to plan Sunday afternoons around Colts games.
And as for feelings of inadequacy, I suggest a two-year sabbatical as a resident of Chicago. You will never feel shamed for living here again. You will feel, as I do, that Indy’s status as a great town is beyond debate, and best kept a secret so Chicagoans don’t flood our town with their cynicism, indifference, and corruption.