Thursday, September 3, 2009


The depressed economy is also affecting sports.  The NFL believes that up to twelve teams could face blackouts.  A blackout occurs when the home team does not sell all of the tickets for the game and the game is therefore not shown on TV in the home team's city.  Bad and mediocre teams in economically troubled areas (like the Detroit Lions) are having trouble.  More surprising is that teams expected to be contenders like the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings, and the San Diego Chargers are also facing the likelihood of having games blacked out.

This news hits a little close to home to me because my hometown team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, face the very real possibility of having all eight games blacked out.  Jacksonville is facing blackouts because the team is not expected to do well, they play in the second smallest market, and the stadium is large due to the demand of the college games played there.

I think the idea of blacking out games, especially during economically troubled times, to be ridiculous.  Since I just bought tickets to an NFL game, I know how expensive even the cheapest tickets are.  To deny people a chance to see their favorite team just because they can't afford tickets in tough economic times seems a sure fire way to guarantee a gradual loss of support.

I also believe that the blackout itself is a bad policy.  It was put in place in the 1970's and it was not until the recent decade that just about every game was a sellout.  Often that sellout came because local TV stations and corporate sponsors bought enough tickets to avoid a sellout.  However, I have been to many games that did not come close to selling out and the threat of blackouts did not bring out a rush of people to see the game.  

Between the ever growing expense of game tickets, and the fact the game is structured to be enjoyed on TV, the experience of watching a game at home often surpasses the experience of watching in person.  At home there is no traffic, or expensive parking, or concessions the overcharge, or the possibility of bad weather.  Given that the at home experience compares nicely with the at the game experience, the best idea is to not punish those who stay at home but to find a way to include them in the league's marketing strategy.  

However, since the NFL is run by the type of greedy bastards who sell directly to ticket scalpers and think that people who can't afford to keep their season ticket contracts in bad economic time need to be sued it is unlikely that NFL will go the route I suggested.

All that being said, for a lot of people who root for bad teams not having to watch their team lose on TV might be a blessing in disguise.

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