Monday, May 26, 2008

Who is more important? Fans or rights holders?

I wasn't able to watch Saturday's dueling playoff games as closely as I would have liked, as I was in a local hole-in-the-wall biker bar that had my best friend's daughter's fiance's band playing. (Yes, my tiny home town has a watering hole you could consider a biker bar)

The band was good, the beer cold and no one was wearing colors (Save for me in my road Shanny sweater and my bud in his home Yzerman one), but the TV reception and my viewing angle left something to be desired. left everything to be desired. I could only kinda-sorta follow what was going on in the games, but the action was often just a rumor.

When I got home, I was able to fast forward to the pertinent parts of the Red Wings victory, while the Pistons recording wasn't worth the hard drive space it was recorded upon. No reason to closely watch something I saw coming, and would end up pissing me off. You know, because that's how the Pistons roll...

Tonight will be a different story, as I'll be home, trying to watch 2 games at once. We have the twits running the NBA and NHL, and their asinine scheduling policies, to thank. So thanks a lot Gary and David! You're asses of the highest order.

The excuse the leagues give for the fucked up scheduling that bends over Detroit sports fans is they have to answer to their "rights holders." TV networks, advertisers, large corporations, the usual culprits.

But when was the last time dipshits like Bettman and Stern answered to those who have made them, and their leagues, and for that matter, their rights holders, insanely rich? I'm talking about us, the fans.

Seriously. Think about it. When was the last time a big league sport actually catered to the fan? We've had more than our share of local examples...

The Lions raise ticket prices during a recession, and tell a season ticket holder to fuck off in an email. I've think we've seen the last of Ford Field's sellout streak. There's going to be games where the opposition will have more fans in attendance. NFL or not, Lions fans are fed up of having their wallets emptied, and getting nothing but grief in return.

The Red Wings apologize to their fans after shutting down for a season, and cutting their payroll by more than half, by issuing season ticket holders insulting "Joe Bucks." In other words, a coupon book good towards overpriced beer and food. The Wings have been much like the Lions when it comes to milking their fan dry. They never lowered their ticket prices, or went out of their way to do anything for a devoted, and gradually going broke, fanbase. They are still suffering from a fan backlash, even in during this year's Stanley Cup run.

Baseball is still more affordable than most sports, but it's become less so by the year. The Tigers have also been guilty of milking the fans dry, constantly raising ticket prices. To their credit, they are spending that extra cash on players. Being quite spendy hasn't helped in the win column, but that's for another post...

But you get my point. The fans are treated as a monetary asset to be drained. Nothing more.

Same goes for the leagues themselves. It's not about what's good for the fans, it's all about what's best for the rights holders.

Stupid late start times for playoff games. I love the fact World Series games end at 1 am.

Even stupider scheduling policies, from the NBA/NHL cluster we've had in Detroit the past few days, to taking 2 1/2 weeks to play a NBA 1st round series.

Sports franchises will blackmail communities, threatening to leave town if they don't get a new arena/stadium, even if their current facility isn't out of date. When a community has the balls to call team owners on it, such as Seattle...Well, it's goodbye Sonics. There's always some flea bit minor league town willing to be screwed over just to get a big league team. I'm looking at you, Oklahoma City.

Playoff ticket prices so high, anyone not born to old money has to take out a second mortgage to afford tickets.

TV rights fees designed to hit fans square in the wallet. The exclusivity of NFL's Sunday Ticket, ensuring only DirecTv subscribers can buy the package. MLB's attempt to do the same last year. The NHL going for the quick money in signing with Versus, a network many fans can't even find on their cable systems. The NBA placing early round playoff games on the NBA TV, a channel .01% of the nation can get. Ditto for the NFL, and their placing games on the unobtainable NFL Network.

Thing is, as sports fans, we get knocked around and keep coming back for more. I'm just as guilty as the next guy. I'll bitch and moan, but I'll still be watching tonight. (And damn near every night...)

I guess what I'm trying to say to the leagues is don't lie to us. When you make a decision, don't say it's "For the fans." Please tell us the truth, which is often something like, "Because the rights holders demanded it," "Because we could make even more money" or "Being richer than God isn't enough."

If sports ever was about the fans, it sure as Hell isn't anymore.


  1. You going to be watching/blogging the games tonight?

  2. Oh yeah, I'll be watching tonight. I'm home, and the DVR is at the ready. I'm thinking I'll post some thoughts after the games.

  3. Al,

    I think you can slide this entry over to the right where it says 'Best of TWFE..'

    Excellent stuff..

    Wings = Win
    Pistons = Win
    Tigers = Freddy Dolsi just struck out Vlad? What the hell.

  4. Outstanding post. It's a shame none of us have the balls to stop caring about these teams.