Loss of Two-A-Days Affects Preparation and Fans
More details of the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) continue to come out, and one detail that was an eye-catcher and has a far-reaching effect is the elimination of two-a-days during training camp. This comes from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen:
"One key concession made by the owners will effectively eliminate two-a-day practices during training camp as a health and safety issue that players termed critical to an agreement, the sources said. Teams will be allowed to have some helmetless and padless non-contact walk-through practices in lieu of a second training camp practice on the same day."
Unfortunately, this concession is going to affect not only how coaches prepare their teams, but the fans as well.
As anyone who has followed the Patriots during training camp and possibly even attended a session or two knows that Belichick likes to throw in a fair amount of two-a-day sessions. Speaking from a position of having coached high school football before, two-a-days are essential in getting in a lot of playbook installation in the short amount of time we’re allowed to practice before the start of the season. It’s also a great check on who’s been keeping in shape, while also building (hopefully not from scratch) on players’ conditioning for the season ahead. As ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss points out, those points do not lose their meaning when going to the pro level.
"Consider this comment from Belichick in the early days of last year’s training camp, “A big part of camp [is] going through it day by day and putting your team under stress and seeing how they react to those situations – judge their conditioning and staying power, mental and physical toughness, and durability. I think that’s an important part of getting your team ready for the 16-game regular-season schedule that we have to face.”"
Reiss also breaks down some of the Pats’ practice schedule, so you should check that out HERE. With conditioning already being an issue due to the lockout, one has to wonder how Belichick and other NFL coaches will work on getting players ready for a 16-game (and perhaps beyond) season. One factor that nobody has considered is how the fans feel about this (which seems to be a common theme with this lockout).
Training camp has been the most fan-friendly event the NFL has to offer, at least here in New England. For Patriots fans, attending a training camp session is free and you have the opportunity to get an autograph at the end of the session. Now, it may not be everybody’s cup of tea to watch players practice, but if you’re a football fanatic, it’s almost like Disney Land, and a welcome return to football before the season starts.
With several two-a-day sessions, usually a morning and late-afternoon session, fans that worked could still make one of the sessions. Last summer, I had the luxury of not working (I’m a teacher and decided not to work the summer) and could attend both sessions, with a lunch break at Patriot Place in between. This summer, I’m working and perhaps will be unable to attend any training camp sessions should they all be held in the morning. If they’re scheduled for the afternoon, fans that work second shift are out of luck. The best we fans can hope for is a staggered morning/afternoon schedule throughout camp. That may not be an option if Bill Belichick does not think switching the schedule around benefits the team.
I understand that players are concerned about injuries, but are two-a-days really to blame? I could certainly see reducing the amount of padded, full-contact practices. However, I don’t see how not practicing twice is going to reduce injuries, unless the players are not conditioned properly. But heck, isn’t that what training camp is for?
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