NFL HALF TIME RANT

In the NFL, there are exactly 13 minutes from the time the teams start to walk off the field to the time they kick the ball for the second half.  I suspect the timing of the break at the half is regulated by the NFL since every game, except the Super Bowl, is exactly the same 13 minutes almost to the second. 

A mere 13-minute break makes no practical sense whatever.  Given that it takes the teams a minute or two to get back to the locker room, sometimes the players or coach are delayed another few minutes by the media, and it takes another 2-3 minutes for the teams to get from the locker room back on the field and line up for the kick, there is barely enough time for the players to relieve their bladder and change their shirt.  Important to handicappers is that there is virtually no time for the coaches to make adjustments or discuss problems and adjustments with the team. 

The NFL has certainly not dictated such a short break for the benefit of the media or the fans in the stands.  College half-time breaks can last as long as 30 minutes, and the media do just fine filling in the time.  In fact, the more space for commercials the better. 

Further, the teams make a great deal of money from the concessions.  If you've ever been to a packed stadium, you know that you can barely get from your seat to the urinals and back in 13 minutes.  If you want a hot dog and a beer you may need to wait on line well beyond the second-half kick off.  All you need to do is to watch the fans jumping off the concession line because the team just kicked to realize how much money the short break costs the concessions.  There is definitely no time to go to the rest rooms, buy a souvenir for the kid, and get some refreshments. 

What, then, is the logic to making the break so short?  The only reason I can imagine is to inconvenience half-time bettors and bookmakers. 

I make a great deal of money hetting at the half.  I am so successful at betting the second half that I have often considered not betting any game until the half.  The player has huge advantages at the half.  All game time decisions are known.  The game plans are known.  How the teams are matching up becomes known.  Questions about the performance of injured players or second string players coming in for an injured starter are known.  The player can use such information to make his prediciton more accurate, but the bookmakers cannot use the information to make the line more accurate.  The half-time line is limited, in most instances, by the bookmaker's need to avoid more than a 10 point middle on game bets. 

The whole thing just doesn't balance out.  Betting the second half can keep fans interested, in the seats, and watching the commercials on TV in blow out games.  Even if there is some advantage to NFL in preventing half-time betting, that advantage doesn't balance the damage to the game, the inconvenience to the non-betting fans, and the loss of money to the concessions.  It's time the owners themselves spoke up and brought the NFL out of their fog of stupidity.

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