Amid the potential changes to the NFL season because of the Coronavirus, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the NFL must be sensitive to the fans this season.
What will the Jacksonville Jaguars and the NFL do to appease fans if they are not allowed to come to the stadium to watch games live and in living color?
I thought about this topic so much, it started out as an editorial on Marlin Maniac, the baseball site of the Miami Marlins here at FanSided.com. As Major League Baseball prepares for a potential 82-game season, the NFL is gearing up to once again stick its chest out and prove it can play a 16-game schedule although it is highly likely fans will not be part of the equation.
That means Jaguars fans will sit at home instead of watching on Sunday afternoons at TIAA Bank Field. It’s a hard pill to swallow as the Jaguars and the other 31 NFL franchises are working to sell individual and season tickets, gearing for what hopes to be a memorable season like 2017.
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The NFL League offices and the franchises are opening their stadiums back up for employees, minus the coaching staff and players. The virtual offseason continues to define how head coach Doug Marrone and his coaches prepare for the upcoming season, with players learning about offensive and defensive installations via Zoom and other social media technology.
The oddity of all this could lead to one of the strangest and more memorable seasons in NFL history. And with that, does preparation questions about how teams will develop during this time give the Jacksonville Jaguars a “chance” to sneak up on their rivals in the AFC South?
Anything is possible.
What the NFL has that their brothers in the sports world did not have is time. And based on television revenue and the growth of the sport over the years, the league may not suffer the hardships that the NBA, NHL, and MLB are going through. Fair or unfair, it just means the game of football was in the right place at the right time. The threat of COVID-19 is very real and still remains a big problem worldwide economically and in health circles, but the NFL will benefit from its late start in the year.
So might the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If the NFL does start the 2020 season without fans in the stands, how does it affect the Jaguars and the players, who have stated in years past they needed the fans to come to fill the stadium and show support? How will the organization, team owner Shad Khan and team president Mark Lamping cater to the fans once they are allowed to come back to enjoy Sundays down on the St. Johns River?
The most important part of the plan for the NFL season to start is the safety and health of everyone concerned. For that reason, fans may stay away. It may hurt the NFL more than it knows.
I’ll draw this parallel to MLB. A family that is now dealing with an economic hardship may find it more difficult to bring themselves to ballgames. Tickets, concessions, parking, merchandise, and other factors play into people plunking down their hard-earned cash. NFL games are not cheap.
The other factor is the family unit. How do the Jaguars or other NFL teams ask families to spend their money when they have dealt with social distancing, have learned to act more like a cohesive unit and can watch the games at home, where it is cheaper, there is air conditioning and the money that had been spent on the NFL is now used to fill voids left by the loss of income?
The Jacksonville Jaguars, given their losing ways, may have a tough marketing campaign ahead of them.
The NFL does not have the luxury of promotional deals in between innings like minor league baseball. And since it is the shortest professional season, it needs to factor in how to keep interested at an all-time high. Catering to the fan bases who have suffered will be a much need part of this season.
I’m curious to see how the Jacksonville Jaguars make that appeal. Factor in two losing seasons in a row and this becomes the most important season for this team not only from a winning standpoint, but also from a fan appreciation standpoint as well.