Saturday, February 03, 2007

NFL Cancels Church Parties

Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic is always amazed when common sense is ignored, and big companies steam-roller those who support them the most. For example, Major League Baseball's (MLB) apparent decision to move their Extra innings television package exclusively to Directv -- a move that would leave the majority of last season's subscribers out in the cold. That kind of business acumen is why MLB is now the national pastime, as long as the NFL, NBA, and X Games are not on television.

Now comes word in the form of a Los Angeles Times article that the National Football League has fired off cease-and-desist letters to houses of worship ordering them to cancel plans to hold Super Bowl viewing parties that involve big screen televisions, and are advertised using the official Super Bowl logo.

According to the Times article the NFL's efforts are based upon laws designed, and passed, to protect television ratings. Indeed the rules are so specific that they define just what a "big screen television" is:

"Under NFL guidelines — and federal law — churches, schools and other public venues can hold football-viewing parties only if they use a single, living-room-size TV, no bigger than 55 inches. When they project the game onto 12-foot screens or set up banks of TVs, they cross the line, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

Jumbo screens 'have the potential to draw thousands of people, and if we had that going on across the country, it would eventually erode the television ratings,' McCarthy said
."

How many of these big screen television parties would have to be going on before television ratings declined? And just how how do the television networks feel about the NFL dragging them into this issue?

The ironic thing is that thousands of bars and retaurants around the country are doing precisely what the churches have been precluded from doing. Again, according to the Times article "[s]ports bars and other businesses that rely on televised sports to draw patrons are exempt." The logic in all of this is so tortured that there is no logic.

In one of the understatements of this NFL season Marshall Leafer, a law professor interviewed for the article, says that "the NFL 'has a pretty good case. But I'm a little puzzled as to why they're doing this, because it gives them a lot of bad press'."

Amen brother, amen.

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