Sunday, January 17, 2010


11 minutes of action ...

Sometime last summer, a co-worker and I engaged in a rather heated discussion - okay, it was really an argument - about whether or not baseball is "boring." I won't, ahem, bore you with the details of our little tête-à-tête, but I will tell you about one chestnut he cracked when trying to make his case. He said, and I quote, "There's 10-times more action in an NFL game than a Major League Baseball game."

An old joke says that a baseball game is 10 minutes of action squeezed into 3 hours. But how much "action" is there, really, in an NFL game? If the joke 'bout baseball is true, well, there's about one minute more action in football game. To wit:

According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. ...

A regulation NFL game consists of four quarters of 15 minutes each, but because the typical play only lasts about four seconds, the ratio of inaction to action is approximately 10 to 1.

Ten-times more action?! Hardly.

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