Dear NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue,
I know that you have one of the more difficult jobs out there.
It can’t be easy to control a multimillion-dollar enterprise. But I
am begging you – let me watch my favorite team on Sunday!
Sunday is my favorite day of the week due to one thing:
football. I get dressed up in jerseys. I eat nachos and wings and
all that heart-stopping glop. But sir, I have been deceived! How
could the CSU tour not have mentioned that I would be forced to
watch Broncos games and only one other match up every single
It might have been a mitigating factor in which college I
decided to go to, had I known that I’d be locked into watching
local teams only. I’m spoiled back home, where I get two of every
broadcast network – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and so on. It means that on
any given Sunday I can watch four to six different games plus the
night game on ESPN and the Monday night game on ABC. But out here,
I’m forced to wait until the playoffs. Or pray to the Football Gods
that my team makes it to the early game on our Fox station. Or I
can wait for the rare double-header on network TV. Isn’t this
supposed to be the digital age? Shouldn’t I have access to my teams
Perhaps the Broncos faithful are rolling their eyes at me now,
but I do not join in their pleasure of watching Denver on the field
every single week minus one bye of every year. I understand that
the home team has to be on TV. I guess I just always think of Super
Bowl XXI when Phil Simms (with the highest completion percentage
ever in a Super Bowl at 88 percent) led the Giants past the Broncos
and Colorado’s favorite son John Elway. Or maybe it’s the spanking
that was Super Bowl XXIV, when San Francisco pounded Denver 55 to
10…just don’t mention the Super Bowl two years ago, when the
Ravens embarrassed my Giants. Please.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It’s not like I dislike all
the Denver teams. I love the Avalanche and can even love the
Rockies up until about August. I just think that it’s unfair to be
forced into watching the home teams, when I want to watch my teams!
Our second Sunday football game seems to be picked at random, and
last year nine out of the 16 games featured teams with losing
records. Fun times!
In a highly unscientific survey, I found that 78 percent of
students at CSU would prefer a choice in what game was chosen for
the non-Broncos game each Sunday. A more scientific study done by
CNN and Sports Illustrated found that 60 percent of football fans
nationwide were dissatisfied with Sunday game selection. If
networks could change games when a blowout becomes assured, I’d
appreciate it. Why should we be forced to watch the Bengals get
blown out by three touchdowns when there is a Patriots-Colts game
that has a three point difference between the teams? If we could
just get to choose our games, that would be even better!
I decided to do some research, and found out about the
NFL-Direct TV deal, which has led directly to the blackout of games
on network TV. When Fox, CBS and ABC signed the most recent
broadcast rights deal in 1998, they paid $17.6 million to broadcast
the games. But a separate deal with Direct TV limited the number of
games the networks could broadcast. The DirecTV contract included a
clause that lets the networks decide which games to sell to DirecTV
for satellite broadcast. That clause, however, expires in 2005. In
the meantime, since DirecTV makes its subscribers pay to watch the
games, we cable subscribers are left with only two day games each
Sunday while the other games are blacked-out.
With all due respect, what where you thinking when you resigned
your exclusive Sunday NFL ticket package with DirectTV in 2002? The
deal means that only DirecTV subscribers can buy the package.
Perhaps you didn’t know that less than 30 percent of people with
TVs have satellite TV, and of those people, only 65 percent
subscribe to DirecTV. It is also highly prejudicial against people
who live in metropolitan areas. Satellite dishes often don’t
function there because of the need for a clear southwest exposure.
And have you not seen the commercials about how dishes don’t hold
up well against weather? I wonder how the fans in Green Bay or
Chicago feel about this. Perhaps you were clouded by the landmark
$1.1 billion that DirecTV paid for the rights, outbidding the more
logical INDemand pay-per-view service that most cable companies
use. Instead of 80 million people having access to every football
game, only 10.7 million people do.
I tried to contact your office for an official comment, but I
couldn’t get through. I can understand. Maybe the other 79,999,999
people who can’t choose the games they watch have also called you
From the Frustrated Female Fan,
Thea is a senior majoring in technical journalism. She is the
station manager for KCSU.