SportsFans.org Appeals to the FCC on Behalf of NFL Fans

Blackout

Sports fans are unhappy. The NBA may enter into a lockout after LeBron James wins the title (you know it's going to happen, people), the NFL is in the middle of their longest work stoppage ever, there are lawsuits levied against NASCAR about racial and sexual discrimination, boxing has sucked for like 20 years (no link for that one... it's just true) and baseball managers are getting sued for using baseball bats to make crude gestures in front of little girls at the ball parks.

OH THE HUMANITY!

After all, in today's economy, why wouldn't Joe Sixpack be mad at the extremely rich athlete for complaining about the millions of dollars that he's making to... get this.... play a game. 

Wouldn't it be nice if we, as sports fans, formed some sort of union? I mean, there's more of us fans than there are athletes. If all the athletes in the world met all the fans in the world on the field of honor, it truly would be a one-sided slaughter. The heavy-set wing-eating armchair quarterbacks would win the day, beating out the athletically gifted freaks of nature because there's just more of us. 

Of course I'm not suggesting we form an angry mob in the street and storm the stadiums with our pitchforks and torches... that would just be aweso.... I mean creazy

What I am suggesting, though, is that some group of fans organize and take it to the professional sports leagues in a legal way -- writing angry letters to people with power.

Well that's just what SportsFans.org is doing.

SportsFans.org is a nonprofit organization created in 2009, and has been fighting, since day one, to give sports fans (THAT'S US!) a voice in controversial issues like the NFL blackout policy, high ticket prices, stadium construction and creating a college football playoff system.

Back in January, they launched a campaign called "Save Next Season," a petition, which has been signed by thousands, calling for the NFL and NFLPA to come to an agreement so football can be played in 2011.

As of right now, though, SportsFans.org is working over the Federal Communications Commission (the same people who won't let us see boobs on TV unless we pay extra for it.... so jerks) in an attempt to make fans happier when it comes to watching sports on TV.

The entire proposed amendment of the FCC's rules related to retransmission consent can be seen here, but here are the meat and potatoes.

"Sports fans have become a political football in retransmission consent disputes," the filing said. "In the recurring smack-down negotiations between big broadcasters and big pay-TV companies, games are pulled right before the action starts, leaving fans in the cold. Fans who are vital to the success of sports and who have contributed through multiple public and private expenditures are treated like fumbled pigskins."

They pointed to several disputes, including one between FOX and Cablevision that caused millions of baseball fans in New York City to miss the first two games of the 2010 MLB World Series.

"Take-downs of sports programming during retransmission consent disputes needlessly punish sports fans," the filing said. "The Commission can and should do something. It has ample authority to take a number of actions. American sports fans would cheer for a referee that puts them back in the game."

But perhaps most importantly, at least to us, since this is a website all about an NFL team that likely won't sell out many home games this year, SportsFans.org attacked the NFL's blackout policy.

"The Commission has long treated sports programming as distinguishable from other types of programming, whether in the context of special rules, such as the sports blackout rule or merger conditions designed to prevent the anti-competitive hoarding of regional sports networks," the filing said. "In this proceeding, the Commission similarly can draw the line at using sports programming as a negotiating tool."

It's likely that this filing with the FCC will do nothing for football fans. However, it could be a building block for another organization and then another. Who knows, this could be looked back as one of the most important events in sports broadcasting history.

Only time will tell.

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