Professional athlete — good work if you can get it!
The PGA Tour goes off on Thursday (the Frys.com Open) and runs until September 25, 2016. That’s the last day of the last tournament, the formal end of the Tour’s 346-day season. The Box suggests, what the hell, why not throw in one more tournament? Make it an eternal season. No beginning, no end, we’ll figure out the money later.
But, since we’re here, how long are sports offseasons? Follows is from a USA Today piece, published last year, titled, “Which sports have the shortest and longest offseasons?” The author counted a sport’s season from its first game to the final game of that sport’s postseason. The rest of the year is considered offseason.
The envelope please.
NCAA football has a 235-day offseason. Sweet. USA Today says, “BCS championship: January 6, 2014. Opening night: August 28, 2014. Percent of year the sport is active: 37%.” You could also say the boys are off work 63% of the time.
NCAA basketball has 222 days off. That number is taken from the last game of the NCAA Final Four to, in this instance, November 14, 2014, the start of the college basketball season. “Percent of year the sport is active: 39%.” Or, percent of the year guys are hanging out, 61%. College basketball players are skating.
The NFL has 215 days off. Outrageous. They’re always whining about head injuries and yet they’re off work 59% of the time. MLB 152 days off, 42% of their year.
The NBA is off 136 days. Compared to the malingerers mentioned above, it’s almost as if NBA players have real jobs, but they’re still off work 37% of the time. The NHL has 118 days off, 32% of their year.
Vegas Line, NFL Week 6 (home team in caps)
For context, we can take as a template what used to be considered a normal job. In those halcyon days of yesteryear, a job consisted of 40 hours of work per week. Workers got two weeks off a year, leaving said personhoods with 50 weeks of work. A work week was five days, so a year’s work totaled 250 days. Thus, the stereotypical employed citizen had 115 days off.
According to that template, the NHL’s offseason is only three days longer than the number of days off employees could expect during the glory years of America’s middle class. Let’s clap our hands.
But we are adults and know the above stats are wildly inaccurate. Those stats are produced from the owners’, sportswriters’, and fans’ points of view. Follows are stats from the point of view of the player — that is, the employee. How long is his season? How many days per year is he working?
According to Ralph Hickok, author of five sports reference books, “The typical work week for an NFL player during the regular season includes 4 days ranging from 9 to 11 hours a day plus 7 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday. That’s 51 to 59 hours a week, with one day off.”
Scout.com says every spring NFL clubs have a voluntary (insert laugh track here) nine-week offseason program divided into three phases. You got your strength and conditioning, your on-field workouts without contact, and your organized team activities (OTA). There are exceptions and lawyer talk, but the basic idea is three phases in nine weeks. The fellas aren’t working every day or all day, but if you voluntarily have to be someplace at a particular time, that’s a job.
The 2015 Chargers offseason program opened April 20. OTAs were held May 26–28, June 1–3, and June 8–11. Mandatory Minicamp was June 16–18. Training camp opened July 30 and lasted 45 days. First regular-season game was September 13. Last regular-season game is January 3, 2016. That’s 170 days of work.
And we’re not counting playoffs. It’s 35 days from the end of the regular season to Super Bowl 50. So, for the worker, the player, his work year can extend to 205 days. If you add in all the hours per day past eight, and all the conditioning he does on his own in order to keep his job, I’d bet big money his total work time is well past 250 days.
NBA training camps opened on September 26 for the 2015–2016 season. On June 10ish, 2016, the NBA Finals end. Let’s call it 258 days and we’re not counting summer leagues.
San Diego Padres 2015 spring training began on February 20. Last day of their regular season was October 4 — 227 days. Make it to the World Series, and you’re looking at a possible 257 days of work.
Everybody gets some days off during their season, but we’re not talking Spring Break here. Expect a day here, a day there. Bottom line: it’s a real job.