So many of us do not live in the Cincinnati Bengals "home" or "secondary" markets. To see our beloved Bengals on TV we switch over to DirectTV or crowd into the local sports bars packed out more often then not by shitty arrogant fans of bandwagon teams with huge bandwagon followings (Eagles, Steelers, Cowboys, etc). Of course, some of us go online and find websites (likely owned, ultimately, by Swedish hackers or the Russian Mafia) to watch the game over a laggy, low quality stream and hidden behind a plethora of pop-up & take-over ads. Meanwhile, we're thinking to ourselves it'd be great if we could have just stayed home to watch the 1:00 Bengals game on our own big-screen HDTV's. Sure, we like going out and flying the orange and black flag... But there's also a small sense of pride when OUR team is being shown on TV - kind of like a junior version of the pride we feel when we've got a Monday night or Sunday night game.
As I do every week of the NFL season, I point my browser over to The506.com or WBTV.com (the local CBS affiliate) and see if the Bengals game will be on in the Charlotte, NC area where I live. In case you’re living under a rock that gives you AFC North tunnel vision, Charlotte is the home of the Carolina Panthers, part of the NFC South. Of course, with the NFL rules, if they have a home game, then that particular game will be the only one found on TV, and I can accept that. But in the many weeks the Panthers are not playing at home at 1:00 (thus other games aren't blocked out), and since CBS does the AFC and not NFC games, you can get a grab-bag of games that could be shown. This week the Panthers have the Seahawks in Seattle as one of the 4:00’s. This gave me some hope that the Bengals/Dolphins game would be shown in the local market.
Come to find out, however, that some other game would be broadcast. What game do I get to watch in my local market? Giants vs. Browns. When I saw this disheartening news, I literally exclaimed "what the fuck?" The Cleveland Browns – the whipping boys of the entire NFL versus the inconsistent New York Giants? REALLY? And don’t give me this "ELIte" crap, or "Trent Richardson’s the second coming." When we can compare that to one of the top 5 wide receivers in the NFL today, another receiver who is emerging as one of the best slot receivers in the game, and a QB who has consistently been among one of the top in the league for the past 3 weeks. You can't even give me the excuse that it's a conference game to compare with the Panthers (i.e. Falcons or Saints vs. whomever)!
In the past, I would have shrugged my shoulders and then started to talk to some buddies about meeting up at the local sports bar for wings, beer, and football. But to show such a scrub bowl as Giants / Browns angered me. I thought back to two years ago when the Bengals came to Charlotte to play the Panthers. It was the first time I was going into an opposing team’s stadium to support my Bengals, and I was fully expecting to be the lone orange jersey in a sea of electric blue. But when I got there, I was amazed at how many Cincinnati Bengals fans had come out of the woodwork to be at that game. Instead of being 1 out of 100, the orange and black were easily a third of BofA Stadium’s crowd that day!!! Shouts of "Who Dey" could be heard all over Uptown Charlotte. For a day, I felt like I was in Cincinnati. Since then, Chiquita has moved its headquarters, assuredly bringing many native Cincinnatians with it. You can even find Skyline Chili for sale in the freezer section of a regional up-scale grocery store, Harris Teeter. The Queen City of the Ohio has invaded and is taking over the Queen City. I know I am not the only Bengals fan in the region.
So… I did what we out-of-market Bengals fans need to do. I searched WBTV’s website until I found the email for their programming director. I immediately fired off an email suggesting, respectfully, that they switch coverage away from Browns/Giants to Bengals/Dolphins. But there is a problem. I expect no change in programming. I expect no response from firstname.lastname@example.org. I am one man. I am one Bengal fan. My voice means nothing. But when we speak together, we make the Jungle roar. If you live out of market, I URGE you to contact your local CBS and FOX stations and tell them in no uncertain terms that Bengaldom DOES exist nationwide, and we DO want to see our games locally. It took me 5 minutes to find the email address and send my message. If a thousand of us spend even 5 minutes… If we get even ONE station to switch games and broadcast what BENGALDOM wants to see… Then we have made a difference. I know this seems like much to ask when we're having trouble even selling OUT the game, but for those of us who live in other regions of the country, that is beyond our control. What we CAN control is asking for the game on our own TV's.