The Bye Week

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They say money is the root of all evil.

It’s also the root of the majority of questionable decisions within sports.

From back-to-back primetime NBA games to advertisements on jerseys to Thursday Night Football, many complaints players and fans have with the modern sports world are the result of a desire for revenue.

And while many of these decisions are logical and profitable, there are simply certain business practices in sports that don’t make sense.

One of the most glaring examples of these baffling practices is the NFL’s Bye Week system. 

Perhaps this is just my way of venting as a Broncos fan, since our week off was Week 5, but I simply don’t understand the spread of byes around the league. 

Each team gets a week off during the season, spread from Week 5 through Week 11. During two of those weeks, six teams are given a break. The other five weeks are set aside for four teams a week.

The reason the NFL chooses to do this is open to interpretation, but it’s likely that they want every TV market to show games that people will watch week in and week out.

But this scheduling gives some teams a huge advantage over others, particularly in recent years when practices before and during the season have been limited by the NFL (due to player health concerns). 

The Broncos have been mostly healthy up to this point in the season, and perhaps the bye will provide some rest and the opportunity to rehab minor injuries, but that’s all. 

However, for a team with a bye later in the season, rest after a half-season of football can be the key ingredient in a playoff push. It also serves as an opportunity for players to get healthy and come back from injuries that would otherwise cause them to miss crucial games down the stretch.

It’s hard to quantify the benefits of taking a bye at different points during the season, but given the chance to choose their own bye week, I would bet that players would vote for rest near the middle of the season.

So why not do just that? It wouldn’t be difficult to switch to a scheduling system that allowed for every team to have a bye near the middle of the season.

Obviously, the ideal scenario would give every team a bye week during Week 9 so everyone would have eight games on either side of the bye. The NFL would certainly lose a large chunk of revenue with this structure, though, and fans would miss a week of football.

The second best option would be to have all teams take their bye during two of the three middle weeks (8,9 and 10). Teams would get very similar scheduling structures and no team would have any gripe about their byes.

However, this would also result in lost revenue, as the NFL would only have eight games to fill seven time/channel slots. With how poor certain teams and games end up being, many TVs would likely get shut off.

My suggestion would be to split the teams into four groups of eight, and fill byes in Weeks 8 through 11. This would allow for a fair yet profitable schedule with 12 games per week for those four weeks.

This would give teams a chance to get healthy and be fully rested heading into the final months of the season, and would provide better football late in the season, which in turn leads to better football, better ratings and yes, money in the hands of the decision makers. 

Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.