Traditionalists will debate that football should only be played over the weekend with one professional game being played on Monday Night. If it were up to networks, especially those of the 24-hour sports variety –looking at you ESPN– football would be played live every night of the week. There’s nothing logical about that, given player’s health and public over-saturation.
Thursday Night Football has been a staple on ESPN. It’s an outlet for many an overlooked college football program to be seen by the whole nation, and has gone a long way in making schools like Virginia Tech relevant.
USC football is not Virginia Tech.
Blacksburg, VA is not Los Angeles, CA.
The Trojans will take on the Washington Huskies on Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Many would argue that USC getting a weekday prime time slot in front of the whole country would be great for recruiting. However, many within the program and close to SC athletics would dictate that USC football recruits itself thanks to a rich history lauded in tradition.
On ESPN2, SMU takes on Houston, two programs that could use a national audience to promote their respected programs. However, they don’t get the ratings that USC will, and here we are.
The media will hype this game as a revenge scenario for the Huskies, who look to beat their former coach Steve Sarkisian and teach him a lesson. There’s a much better chance of the game being over by halftime.
Sep 12, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian on the sideline against the Idaho Vandals at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USC is coming off a convincing throttling of a down ASU squad in Tempe, and a bye week to rest up and prepare for Washington. The Trojans are back on track after a tough loss to Stanford in Week 3.
Too bad many of the Trojan faithful won’t see a point in taking off work early and fighting through rush hour LA traffic to get to Exposition Park. Not to mention the no tailgate policy in effect during a school day.
This is the third-straight year USC has played a Thursday night game in the Coliseum. The Trojans won both of the previous match ups against Arizona and Cal. Both games had around 65,000 in attendance, which is about 30,000 shy of capacity.
One could debate if any matchup not involving UCLA would be enough to fill the stadium up on a weeknight, when there’s work and school to attend on Friday.
Los Angeles is the No. 2 market in the country with around 10 million residents. Roads are slammed throughout the southland 24/7 with local commuters and tourists. On an average weekday it’s unpleasant and can be downright unbearable.
The parking situation isn’t much better, considering school is in session. Many will be forced to use public transportation, which in and of itself is no picnic.
Why deal with all the headache, when you can watch the game from the comfort of your own home? This is a decision that is not only convenient but rational, thanks to income and pricing. However, that’s a debate for a different piece.
What this all boils down to is TV revenue. ESPN and its sponsors are banking (literally) on fans watching the game at home.
At what point is enough enough? When the Coliseum is empty and there’s no atmosphere whatsoever? At least the mouse is fed, right?
USC football should only be subjugated to a weekday primetime game, if and only if the game is away. Later in the season, USC plays Colorado on a Friday night. However, TV wants that beautiful LA backdrop, instead of a random college town that has nothing to offer but dark buildings, a cornfield or some trees.
The likelihood of this changing is slim. Money is money, and USC is getting its cut of it.
The whole point to being a fan is another word that looks similar: fun. For LA residents there’s nothing fun about a Thursday Night Football Game.
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