Last night, Baltimore fans showed how to end the stalemate over the NFL referee strike. Until now, the NFL has had little incentive to negotiate with the referees because there’s no financial detriment–even though they complain, the fans are still paying to watch the games. But I think that fan complaints may be enough, if they choose the right words.
In last night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots, disgruntled fans starting chanting a repeated obscenity over and over at such a high volume that it was clearly audible on network TV. So the FCC should fine NBC for violating broadcast rules prohibiting on-air obscenity.
Then in turn the network should sue the NFL for providing a broadcast production that violated FCC rules. Of course, the NFL will argue that it had no control over individual fans or that the stadium authority should be held responsible. And there’s some validity to that argument, so NFL might never have to pay a legal judgment or settlement. But they will have to pay lawyers to deal with all the mess. This will prove even more onerous to the NFL if fans in other cities follow Baltimore’s example. More fines will follow, along with a bigger lawsuit. Sponsors might even join the fracas by cancelling or scaling back on advertising. Eventually, the NFL may feel enough financial pain (since humiliation isn’t doing it) to motivate them to reopen negotiations with the men who know how to officiate the league’s own games.
So fans, you know what to do. My adopted hometown of Baltimore set the example – I gotta love a town where over 70,000 people can execute a well-enunciated chant in perfect unison without even holding a practice session. But I’m sure we’re not the only ones capable of such oral precision. So the next time you see amateur officiating in the professional sport which you’ve paid a professionally high ticket price to attend, let your feelings be known. And then, for good measure, be sure to call the FCC to complain about it.