I grew up about 40 miles from Lambeau Field, or approximately the distance of Brett Favre’s career passing yards. Not that I ever made it to Lambeau Field as a kid. Every game was sold out, with a generations-long waiting list for tickets.

Some of my friends’ families had season tickets. Their parents weren’t about to let go of their seats for any regular-season game, no matter how cold it got in December. But to get those tickets they had to pay full price for something they were quite happy to give away in August: preseason tickets.

That’s how I ended up at Milwaukee County Stadium, thrilled to be at an NFL exhibition game.

No, wait. The NFL has long avoided calling them “exhibition” games.

So let’s call them … exhibition practices.

Exhibition, preseason. Whatever you call them, that initial childhood thrill is long gone, replaced by the realization that these games are among the biggest ripoffs in sports, worse than a $12 beer.

I mean, at least presumably the beer hasn’t been watered down and still sold for $12. And you don’t have to buy a couple of the water-downed beers to get a regular one.

The Jaguars will play their first home exhibition game Thursday night. When the schedule came out, the storyline instantly was quarterback Nick Foles versus his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The reality is that it will be mostly backups versus backups, with a meaningless final score.

You’re more likely to see Gardner Minshew lose his helmet than Foles find his receiver.

That’s the NFL preseason.

Baseball also has meaningless exhibition games. But there is a certain charm to spring training.

I get it you’re excited about the return of the NFL, about the prospect of watching guys in Jaguars uniforms running around TIAA Bank Field again, fighting for roster spots.

The Jaguars’ exhibition opener, a 29-0 loss at Baltimore, offered a reminder of how quickly an exhibition game can douse such excitement.

It’s not just here. The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal summed up the NFL preseason recently by saying, “Watching is like wearing a ‘kick me’ sign.”

It could be worse. The Jaguars had the lowest general bowl average ticket price in the NFL last season. And even with a slight increase, general bowl season tickets start at $39.

The Packers and Raiders will play an exhibition game in Winnipeg this month. It’s officially a home game for the Raiders. The game’s promoter set the average price at $191.50 in Canadian dollars, which is $144 in U.S. dollars, which is overpriced in any currency.

The locals, who didn’t have to buy these tickets to get season tickets to Winnipeg Jets hockey games, didn’t exactly pull out their wallets just to see Aaron Rodgers play a few series. When less than 10,000 tickets sold, prices were cut.

Fans and media have long been saying prices should be cut for all NFL exhibition games. Years ago former T-U sportswriter Pete Prisco wrote, “The NFL should do one of two things: Either greatly discount the preseason tickets, giving plenty away to underprivileged kids, or do away with two games.”

The NFL is floating the idea of doing the latter when the next collective bargaining comes up, cutting the number of preseason games and increasing the number of regular-season games. But don’t expect to see the league do away with making fans pay regular-season prices for preseason tickets.

A business should be free to charge whatever it pleases for its product, right? And some will rightfully point out the cost of a newspaper that doesn’t include results of the game the next morning — and that, unless they opt out, charges consumers for “premium” products?

Valid points. But the NFL isn’t your ordinary business. It’s a monopoly, with 32 franchises subsidized by billions of local tax dollars.

The idea of making fans buy some tickets to get others is hardly unheard of. If you wanted first dibs on tickets to “Hamilton” when it comes to town, you had to buy the FSCJ Artist Series season-ticket package.

But this would be like saying to lock in “Hamilton” tickets, you have to pay to watch understudies rehearse scenes from "Cats" and “The Play That Goes Wrong.” (An actual theatrical play, not a summary of the Jaguars' offense in the exhibition opener.)

mwoods@jacksonville.com,

(904) 359-4212