Taking aim at the National Football League while pushing his gift for populist grandstanding to new heights, Mike Fasano files a feel-good bill he knows will never get out of committee.
I mean, his heart is in the right place. It’s infuriating that the NFL orders local TV blackouts for games—often played in taxpayer-financed stadiums—that aren’t sold out 72 hours ahead of kickoff. But it’s a seller’s market, and if the Legislature attempts to enforce the will of their couch potato constituents on the league, the reason bay-area Buccaneers fans will never be blacked out again is because they’ll be playing in Los Angeles. Say hello, also, to the San Antonio Dolphins and the Portland Jaguars. And goodbye to ever hosting another Super Bowl.
Worse, the state senator’s vision—team owners should buy up or give away tickets to achieve a sellout—plays season-ticket holders for chumps. Yes, there is cache in seeing the games live and in person, but it radically devalues ticket-holders’ investment when foot-draggers know they can score freebies just by procrastinating. Fasano’s bill represents a disastrous meddling in a public-private partnership that threatens every future arrangement of a remotely similar nature.
The days of the blackout are numbered, but it will be brought down by television advertisers demanding not to be cut out of local markets over the matter of a few thousand tickets, not the misguided hubris of a politician sticking up for the best interests of the “little guy” who doesn’t understand what his best interests are. You want the blackout policy to end? Call, email or write the marketing departments of the NFL’s official sponsors, national and local. But on this wrong-headed confrontation, Sen. Fasano should stand down.