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The Blackout Effect E-mail
Written by Jason Smith   
Benjamin Franklin once said that their two certainties in life.  Those two things were death and taxes.  For local Buccaneers fans, you can add blacked out home games to that list and for diehard football fans this is tantamount to death.  Death of a routine that some of us have had for years.
For the most part, real football fans are creatures of habit.  We like to know that our plans are set for us during the fall.  I know that my plans are basically set for sixteen weeks out of the year.  On Sundays, I’m watching the Bucs.  I have canceled plans, skipped birthdays and have lied to people to watch the Bucs games on Sundays.  I have even told people that if you have an engagement that you’d like me to attend, the game better be on and if this is going to be a problem, don’t invite me.  I will be somewhere watching the Bucs and, invariably, I will be happy.  

Some might say that it is rude to make demands on someone who is kind enough to ask you to be a part of some special moment with their life.  Their child’s birthday or a graduation party.  A church function or a christening.  I say that it is rude for them to have a function, when the Bucs are playing because the Bucs are my church on Sundays.  Football is my religion and we live in a country where we cannot be persecuted for our religious beliefs.  Let me practice my religion.

Over time, my friends and family have accepted this fact and they know that this is important to me.  It is important to us.  They have the game on to pacify me.  If there party is outside, I stay inside, watching the game.  If their kids are opening presents, I’m watching the game.  I have been in some situations where some people will say, “Come out and socialize” or “Why are you being anti-social?”  My response is, “I’m watching the Bucs.  Leave me alone.”  

My friends have similar views about the Bucs and how they plan their Sundays around the games.  It is an event that brings us all together for one common goal and that’s watching the Bucs.  It is our way of supporting the team and it is a way of life.  

This year, things have changed.  The blackouts have effectively ruined my football flow.  They have blown apart my routine that I have cultivated and crafted over the years.  I know this isn’t scientific, but my method is to watch the game.  This year, it has been almost impossible and, quite honestly, not fair.

I tried to watch the first game on the internet which is just wrong first of all.  I bought a HD TV specifically for football.  The site was down when I logged on, so I panicked and started to scramble.   I couldn’t find anyone that had access either, so I had to get updates online.  This is not the way it is supposed to be.  

I made plans to watch the second blacked out game at friends house that had access to the game through his brother’s Verizon account and because he lives in Denver, he can watch the games online legally.  He had to tether his laptop to his TV in order to watch the game.  We watched, but the annoyance of having to go through this hassle takes away from the enjoyment of the game.

Most people are resistant to change.  I don’t want to have to watch the game online or go to a bar that has illegally put the game on.  It shouldn’t be illegal.  The games should just be on.  This affects the away game also that are televised because of the fact that I have not really seen the team play; I don’t really know the players.  It is like taking a test that you haven’t prepared for.  You may know the material, but you not going to do well because you don’t know the specifics.  I can’t do my best watching without preparation.  The blackouts have affected my viewing and that’s not right.  It has to be fixed.

I have given up on the hope that home games will be televised.  I don’t plan on watching them anymore because I don’t feel like jumping through hoops to watch something that should be simple.  I don’t even really know the schedule because the coverage of the games has changed.  There is no buildup for the games locally, so you have to find out where they are playing every week.  This injustice has to stop.  

The simple solution is to actually go to the home games.  The truth is that I hate going to the games because of the hassle and cost involved.  Plus, fans at the game are obnoxious.  They aren’t cool and composed like me.  

I haven’t given up on the hope that the games will be televised next year but it doesn’t look good.  Thankfully, I have the Gators to watch on Saturdays, but I want this to be fixed for the fans that have had their routine smashed to pieces this year.  We have to realize that all football fans do not like college football also.  For some people, these blackouts have had a damaging effect on their psyche.  On their spirit.  On their soul.  I feel their pain and I hope that the blackout effect stops next year.  It could be the next pandemic or epidemic or plague to affect our country.  It has to be stopped.