GREENWICH, England. This town of approximately 30,000 plays an outsize role in world affairs, a fact that is a point of pride among locals here. “It’s really up to us what time of day it is wherever you are,” says Nigel Blessing, whose family traces its roots here to the 16th century. “Don’t blame me if your watch is slow, though. Just get a new battery, mate,” he says with a wink that assures this reporter he’s only joshing.
The Royal Observatory
Greenwich’s prominence dates from 1884, when “Greenwich Mean Time” became a standard used world-wide by mariners, but its influence now extends beyond navigation to the world of sports. “All of the major professional leagues use us to calculate how many time-outs a team can have,” says Royal Astronomer Clive Cutheridge. “Also how many seconds in a standard shaving cream or beer commercial.”
So it was to the Royal Observatory here that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell made his plea for an eight day-week when he was in England for a Washington Redskins-Cincinnati Bengals clash last October. “Our fans would watch televised games seven days a week if they could,” Goodell said. “Since by gentleman’s agreement with America’s high schools and colleges we don’t broadcast on Friday or Saturday, we need that extra day to pay my salary and concussion-related benefits to players.”
Under a re-alignment proposed by the NFL and agreed to by the Royal Astronomer, an eighth day to be called “Goodellday” will be inserted between Monday and Thursday on a rotating basis, thereby creating an opportunity for additional television revenues. “It will be good for the fans,” Goodell said. “Many viewers haven’t recovered from their Sunday hangovers before they have to gear up for Monday Night Football,” he noted. “This will give them an opportunity to attend to the unpleasant aspects of their daily lives–such as something called ‘work’–before their next football-viewing opportunity.”
An eight-day week has been tried before after a rock group known as The Beatles made a documentary movie–“Eight Days a Week”–touting the benefits of such a change in schedule, which it compared to Daylight Savings Time. “With an 8-day week, you would receive your copy of Tiger Beat a day earlier,” says drummer Ringo Starr. “Or later, I’m not sure which.”
Economists say the surfeit of televised football in the last four months of the year can be measured by the downward trend in non-farm labor output during the fall, often leading to hurricanes in September, bear stock markets in October, and fuzzier caterpillars. “I’m not saying that there aren’t any drawbacks to watching a lot of football,” Goodell said. “On the other hand, who gives a rat’s ass what a bunch of nerdy economists think?”