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Sports Commentary 11/9/12

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The “Live Game NFL Experience” is costly and keeping fans at Home…

On second thought, maybe it’s not nothing afterall. Wednesday, you may recall, I did a commentary about nothing, with full apologies to Jerry Seinfeld. Among the stories of the day I referred to as much ado about nothing was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s concern that his league was losing it’s live gates to it’s television broadcasts because the latest innovations in television, primarily high-def T-V, was making the “at home” NFL experience so enjoyable. My reasoning that Goodell’s concerns were over nothing was sound, that the NFL wasn’t losing it’s live gate to television, it was losing it’s live gate to over priced tickets, personal seat licenses and parking costs, not to mention the gas costs to get to those parking lots, that were pricing the live game experience right out of the means of the average man, the middle class that everyone says drives the U.S. economy as it were. It’s not only the cost, it’s what you get for the price that is driving the average fan away. Fans are asked to ante up for their season tickets as soon as the previous season ends, before they’re presented with schedules showing their favorite team’s biggest games will be played on Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night, assuring that, after sitting in cold and sometimes wintry conditions on late November and December evenings and battling the drunken mobs clogging the parking lots and the highways and by-ways around the stadium, they’ll arrive home with the sunrise. The NFL still has one element that appeals to fans. The biggest games of the season are still available to everyone in the viewing audience, including adults who have jobs and kids who have to go to school. They don’t discriminate and they aren’t eliminating the next generation of their dollar spending public. Their biggest game of the season, the Super Bowl, is generally over by ten o’clock at night, eastern time, about the time the biggest games of Bud Selig’s baseball season are getting to the halfway point. In a recent letter to a local fan who complained about the time for World Series games Selig made it abundantly clear that fans on the east coast are of little importance to him because his T-V partners prefer the prime time boost the later innings get from the central, mountain and western time zones. In other words, go pound sand if you feel you deserve to see a World Series game to it’s conclusion. Unfortunately average football fans don’t have the wherewithal to attend the Super Bowl, they have to satisfy themselves with being part of the “at home” NFL experience for the “Big Game”, which brings us to the afterthought of nothing. Maybe they should just do away with the live gate. One NFL exec followed up Goodell’s expressed concerns by saying, “We’re competing with our own product.” Stop the competition. Just do away with the live gate. Build 5,000 seat arenas, which would greatly reduce the burden on the taxpayers who pay for them, and play the games in front of studio audiences that can afford the tickets and seat licenses. Give your television partners anything they want. Midnight games to capture that massive prime time audience in Southeast Asia? Go for it. If you want it to be all about T-V, make it all about T-V. Who needs live gates? As I said in the first place, much ado about nothing. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.

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