It's been a busy week for the Glazers. With the owner's meeting and league meetings, they certainly have their hands full. The week of the meetings also happens to be one of the few times a year we hear directly from the ownership. We were able to get an idea as to what they saw when it comes to previous drafts, we now have an idea of the direction of the team and their role in shaping it, but the biggest news had nothing to do with play on the field. It had to do with the possibility of blackouts.
Just a quick recap. A blackout can occur when an NFL isn't sold out approximately 72 hours prior to kickoff. The home team can get a 24 hour extension to sell the remaining tickets if they so choose. If the tickets aren't sold by anyone (including the team themselves), the game is blacked out on local TV within a 75 mile radius. The idea is, if you want to see the team, spend the money to do so. Whether we agree with the rule or not, it reared it's ugly head in Florida in 2009 and appears ready to do so again in 2010.
Now, no one involved with the Bucs wants a blackout. It doesn't do anyone a lick of good. When there's a blackout, it means those fans who choose to stay home or have no way of going to the game can't see it, it means the stadium isn't sold out which means less revenue from ticket sales, parking, advertisements, and food/beverage sales. The only people who may benefit from it are the local bars/eateries as their traffic may increase. And I doubt that the Glazers (or any owners) see that as a positive.
The point is, while we may criticize the Glazers in this situation, this isn't what they want, at least in my opinion. It provides no upside to the team and does more harm than anything else. It leaves fans disgruntled they can't see their hometown favorites, it leaves the franchise with less money in the pocket than if it sold out the stadium. It also keeps the fanbase from growing. If you can't see the players or the team, you are less likely (again, my opinion) to buy a jersey or build a familiarity or a form of camaraderie with the team. In short, no one, not even the teams themselves root for blackouts to occur. It's a failure that everyone sees, without actually seeing it on TV.
Which leads to the question, what do blackouts mean for you as the average fan? Now, I know some of you live out of area or overseas, which means I can't account for your experience as not only do you not get "blacked out" when the rest of us do, there are times when you can't see the game period. But for those who live within the general 75 mile radius, what will the results be?
I can only speak from personal experience, but a blackout has the potential to leave the modern fan moving on from their current team. With no way to watch the Bucs, you can get detached to the situation. We live in a world where every NFL game is available to us in a bevy of ways. We have mobile updates, online streaming, satellite packages, and the Red Zone channel. Fans also participate in multiple fantasy leagues and pools that seem to receive more dedication then their favorite team. With other options to watch games, it would seem logical that while we the average fan may maintain some loyalty to their home team, that they become a surrogate fan of another team.
Now, I'm not predicting that one blackout will have all of the Bucs fans jumping ship for another team, but sometimes it just takes one negative movement to have people abandon ship. After all, if a 3-13 season can cause this much turmoil, how much damage would blackouts cause? I'm very much a fan of the Bucs and you won't see my loyalty waver, but on the heels of a losing season, the Bucs can ill-afford blackouts. The Glazers know this, the team knows this, and the fans know this. Regardless of the availability of televised games, you can be sure that we'll provide you the up to date Bucs coverage all season long.
The long and short of it is don't take for granted each time we get to see our team on TV. 5 years ago, blackouts seemed like an impossible reality. Today, we've heard it straight from the owner's mouth. With this news, assuming there are blackouts, how will you cope with the loss of televised Bucs games?