It’s looking like the NFL is about to see some hard times of their own due to the economy. Everybody knew it was coming, and we are seeing the first signs of it as there are 10 to 12 teams that may not sell out every game. This would mean mass local blackouts on TV broadcasts for many supportive fans. Last season there were only three teams that didn’t sell out games and not surprisingly the list was Oakland, Detroit, and St. Louis. They combined for a total of nine blacked out games last season. I can’t blame any of the fans for not going to those games though, especially since I’m a Raiders fan and value paying to see them as much as going to see “Thunder from Down Under” for a bachelor party in Vegas. Despite the fact that there are about one third of teams finding it difficult to sell out, the blackout rule will stay in effect for it’s 37th straight year. The Jaguars have stated that they may not even sell out one home game all season. Sorry Jacksonville fans, you have to sign up for Direct TV and pay an extra $200 just to watch your local team for those eight games.
Tim Keown explored the reasons why the blackouts are out dated, and only hurt the league. I fully agree, as it deters possible fans that would have to watch the locally televised games. Many times a casual fan that lives in the area is exposed to the local team to the point where they start to follow them. I’ve had that transformation since my move to Southern California about three years ago. I used to root mildly for the Giants as a Northern California resident, but without being able to watch them, I now root for the Dodgers since I see them on TV nearly every day. I definitely never thought that I’d say four years ago when I was living in Northern California surrounded by that media market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fair weather fan, I’ll always be a fan of the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors which sholuld say enough looking at their track records this past decade. I’ll root for all the Oakland teams no matter where I live, but every sports fan has “other teams” or man crushes on a certain players so we follow them. If they’re in the local media market, they are certainly going to be watched. That won’t happen if eight of a teams games are being blacked out. How can anyone get attached to a player or team that isn’t shoved down your throat? It won’t happen, and that’s why this rule that’s older than Al Davis needs to be changed.
Sometimes we’ve been saved from these blackouts by local companies that will buy up the rest of the tickets, so that the game can be televised. In these uncertain economic times it’s much less likely that companies are going to open up their wallets to get a game televised. Teams that have had no problem selling out all their tickets in the past like the Cheifs, Dolphins, and Jets are struggling to sell tickets, and have noticeably ramped up the promotions to get people out to the games. San Diego, Miami, and Minnesota are on the list of teams that might not sell out all their tickets, and they were all playoff teams last season. If I was jobless, and couldn’t watch my team play on their way to a playoff run I’d be mad. The NFL is still in great shape either way financially, so why not give the fans a break. It’s bad enough that the fans are asked to spend taxpayer money on the ridiculously large stadiums, and they expect people to be okay with them not being on their local programming!
This quote pretty much sums up how much Goodell and the NFL care about the fans that support the game and teams of their home towns.
Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports and CBS News, said last week that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told him that “he is not going to make any major adjustment to a rule that has lasted a long time just because of a short-term economic problem.”
When asked if CBS had concerns about blacked-out games, McManus said, “I don’t think there is any way they are going to change it, so it is pointless to talk to them about it.”