By Ken Reed
I think a lot of reporters and consumer advocates are jumping the gun on this week’s FCC proposal to end blackout restrictions on pro sporting events. I don’t think the FCC action does anything for the fans yet — and it may never do anything for them. The reality is that even if this week’s FCC proposal becomes a final decision, the NFL and their network partners can still put blackout clauses in their TV deals.
Basically, my feeling on the sports blackout issue is that given all the tax advantages the NFL gets as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, along with all the taxpayer-funding NFL owners receive to build their sports palaces, and the NFL’s government-sanctioned monopoly status, fans need to be treated more justly in a lot of ways, but particularly when it comes to television blackouts. NFL games should not be blacked out. Period.
However, this week’s FCC proposal specifically states that networks and sports leagues would retain the right to privately negotiate blackout restrictions. This is likely what the NFL and its partner networks will do. In effect, for sports fans, nothing would change.
This needs to be cleaned up. All loopholes allowing leagues, networks and league franchises to continue a blackout policy of any type should be removed in any new FCC rule. If not, the favorable treatment the government gives the NFL should end.
The only possible light at the end of the tunnel here is that instead of fans blaming some FCC rule for sports blackouts, they could blame the local NFL franchise, the league, and the networks for conspiring to put a blackout clause in their television contracts. By shaming the NFL and its franchises, the league could take a pretty big PR hit. Whether that hit is big enough to stop them from negotiating their own blackout rules in television contracts I don’t know.
But I doubt it.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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