Not everyone cares how Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is performing in training camp this year, but there are millions who do. (AP)

How’s Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is performing in training camp this year? As long as it’s sunny and the concessions stands are open … who cares? (AP)

While the cat is away, the mice will play—at least that’s how the saying goes.  And while Bill Littlefield has been away, chasing after the U.S. women’s soccer team in London, I’ve been trying to convince anyone who will listen that NFL training camps are cool.

See, Bill’s not really a fan of NFL training camps, or the NFL for that matter, which is his right.  I’m not really a fan of the MLS and would never choose to truck out to Foxborough in the chill of January to watch the New England Revolution practice.

But, given a day off in the bright sunshine of late summer, I would take the same drive down to the Patriots’ training camp, and you wouldn’t even need to pay me to do it.

Training camp is cool.  You can sit on a blanket in the grass, or on a hard metal bleacher, if that’s your thing.  Every once in a while, someone selling lemonade or cotton candy comes by, and if you want some, you have to pay for it.  But that’s okay, because you got in for free.  Near as I can tell, only the Chiefs and the Steelers are charging for training camp this year, and then it’s only for certain practices, and then it’s only about $5, or less if you happen to be under 18.

Sure, some teams charge for parking, usually no more than $5 or $10, and in quite a few places the number of attendees are limited by the size of the stands, or the fields surrounding the stands.  But, in places that can hold big numbers, the numbers have been big.  Fifty-five thousand fans attended the Green Bay Packers Family Night on August 3.  They really love their football in Green Bay.  And, more than 41,000 fans showed up to watch a Denver scrimmage last weekend, more than twice the Broncos single-practice attendance record set two years ago.  I wonder if some guy named Peyton had something to do with that?

Once the temperatures start dropping and the regular season games begin, it’ll cost more to park at an NFL stadium than you’d spend in an entire day at training camp, lemonade and cotton candy included. So enjoy these last days of summer, football fans, before the money-grubbing begins in earnest on September 5.