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The commish blacks out

So I'm listening to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the radio this morning, and I'm driving at the same time -- which is not recommended in the safety manual, kiddies, because sometimes the commish says stuff that nearly makes a rational man drive into a ditch.

Today Roger the Hammer said this: That the NFL's blackout rule -- a topic of interest considering all the games that will be blacked out this weekend -- has been good for the league and good for the fans.

Good for the fans?!

Excuse me, sir, but can I point out that nothing skewers the fans more than the blackout rule? And that if the league was smart it would abolish it immediately, because it serves no useful purpose other than to be pointlessly punitive?

Here's the deal: None of the fans attending games in any of the blacked-out cities this weekend are going to be there because their games are blacked out. Trust me on this. In fact, I challenge anyone to poll the fans at any of those games, and if you can find more than one who says, "Yeah, my team's game was blacked out, so I decided to drop 200 bucks I didn't have to come to the game in person," I'll buy you a libation of your choice.

The blackout rule, see, presumes a fan demographic that doesn't really exist. Go to any NFL game, and the the crowd breaks down roughly between season ticketholders (a static audience), corporate blocks (another static audience) and the Joe Fan who saves up all year so he can attend one of this team's games.

It's an event to him. Which means he's not going to stay home from that particular game because he can watch it on TV.

So, in essence, you have a blackout rule that drives no one to the stadiums. All it does is punish those fans who can't afford to go to games on a weekly basis. Why should they have to spend $100 or more to sit in the nosebleeds for, say, Tampa Bay-Kansas City the first week of September? Or even Minnesota-New Orleans tomorrow night?

Sure, it'll be a great game, but ultimately it's just a Week 1 game in a 16-week season. The outcome won't determine whether or not either team makes the playoffs. The importance of any one game in the NFL is, frankly, grossly overstated. Which means on any given Sunday, every game is grossly overpriced

But Goodell wants to punish Joe Fan with blackouts for not buying into that? And then says it's good for Joe Fan?


Ben Smith's blog.