Lawmakers pressure the NFL?

Ok, I know I haven’t finished publishing the AK trip – sorry about that guys – but I couldn’t let this one go by without a comment – I’m not a big sports fan as many of you know, but how could I not pay attention to the undefeated New England Patriots this year? The 1972 Miami Dolphins had an undefeated season but the regular season was only 14 games then. There are now 16 regular season games and tomorrow the Patriots will face the New York Giants in the last game of regular season play. This will be a historic game for NFL football. Before this week, you would only be able to watch this game if you had the NFL network in your cable lineup, or you lived Boston or Manchester where it will air on WCVB-TV Channel 5 and WMUR-TV Channel 9 respectively.

Many cable companies don’t currently carry the NFL network in their basic package, but do offer the network as an addon. I called Cox Communication and had the NFL network (and NFL-HD) as well as the NBA Channel and about half a dozen other sports channels added for the combined low price of $5 a month. I’m not a sports buff, but for that price, why not?

I know this isn’t what I typically write about, but when my brother-in-law called me to tell me that US Senators have put pressure on the NFL over the NFL network’s broadcast of this (and other) games, I had to blog about it. Yes, you read that correctly, US Senators have decided that this is a matter federal government’s attention. Senators from both sides of the isle contacted the NFL to complain that only about 40% of US households received the NFL Network and threatened to review the NFL’s monopoly exemption if they didn’t make the game more widely available! Can you say EXTORTION?!?!? Talk about abuse of power, here is a prime example. I can’t imagine what would make these senators think such an abuse of their authority acceptable. Do these men have nothing better to do as senators of this nation then to pursue what channel the game is on? Maybe they cannot afford the $5 a month? I’m sure there is a sports bar somewhere inside the beltway that will be airing the game…

Whatever the case, the NFL has backed down for fear of congressional repercussion – the game will now be aired on NBC and CBS as well – which by the way violates their contract with WMUR.

2 replies on “Lawmakers pressure the NFL?”

Once again it’s cousin against cousin!

I found it refreshing that the NFL assented to provide the feed to one or more of the broadcast networks, thereby allowing nearly the entire nation to watch the Patriots achieve a remarkable record. What puzzled me is that they NFL didn’t scramble to find a broadcast partner on their own. Wouldn’t you suppose that if a premier sport league had a once-in-a-generation season hinging upon one final game they would have wanted the entire nation to partake in the experience as a way of building good will? If I had an office on the top floor of the NFL building I would have shouted down the hallway to the other big shots, “Hey, guys (and I bet they are all guys), this thing is too good to keep to ourselves! Let’s let everyone get in on the excitement!”

The NFL, however, seems to be led by a group that intends to monetize every aspect of overly-large men smashing into each other. The Super-Bowl itself demonstrates my point.

Each year in its quest for more and more money from which ever network has paid for the broadcast rights to the big game the NFL pushes the broadcaster to reach a wider and wider audience. Let’s face it, they should have been able to see the folly of their ways a few years ago in the aftermath of the “wardrobe malfunction” fiasco. The viewership of the Super-Bowl has gone way beyond every football fan in the country (or world, for that matter) if the producers find it advantageous to include Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. So extreme is their quest for higher ratings that they have made the halftime show more than 15 minutes. Well, that means it isn’t really a football game anymore, because a football game has a 15 minute halftime.

Of course, in spite of that, I’ll be watching the Super-Bowl, probably with Hiroko at the home of our friends Bill and Katsuko who typically host a phenomenal party that day – and well into the night. And I’ll be rooting for a good game between the Steelers and the Redskins and consider it a victory if either of “my teams” win.

I don’t typically respond to comments, but…

You believe this is the kind of work our senators should be engaged in? Really?

I’m fine with your assertion that the NFL should want to make the game more available – although, its already available for a price which by the way – your cable isn’t free either – maybe the Senators should look into that?

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