Does it frustrate you that the price of nachos at Mountaineer Field is around the $4 mark?
Does it frustrate you that ticket prices, as well as Mountaineer Athletic Club required donations, go up every year?
Are you one of the MANY people who believe their should be a College Football Playoff system, and that the BCS system needs to die a quick and swift death?
Are you one of those who takes issue with Comcast pretty much pissing all over your right as a sports fan to catch your team in action, regardless of what cable or satellite provider you have?
If so, read on. If not, you probably work for the BCS or Comcast, and thus, I hate you.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director for the DC Advocacy group “Sports Fans Coalition.” After spending a few minutes on the site, I knew this guy had a good thing going based on some of their issues, and wanted to interview him. He agreed to do a phone interview with me after my e-mail request, and without further ado, here is the interview.
College Football and Greed
HailWV.com: What is it about the BCS that just absolutely gets your blood boiling, so-to-speak?
Brian Frederick: I think it’s the arbitrary nature of how the teams that end up in the BCS title game are selected. Sports is always so much about “a system of rules and regulations.” The BCS is just a convoluted where a) nobody can understand and b) a lot of power given to a few amount of people. They feel like the system is controlled a few people, and all these college fans want a playoff.
It should be left up to the teams who gets into the National Championship game. I’m definitely not one that enjoys speculating who should and who shouldn’t be in the title game.
HailWV.com: It seems a big issue is that taxpayer money is used to fund sporting events (bowl games) and venues when the big guys in charge are already turning a huge profit, and rightfully so. Discuss what the Sports Fans Coalition wants to do to curb that.
Brian Frederick: I think as far as College Football goes… if we can get a college football playoffs… the money generated from a playoff would be so great… everybody agrees there would be so much money to be made from a playoff, from the vendors on up. Money raised from a playoff could be used to offset the costs of universities running athletic depts. If we had a playoff, there’s no reason these bowl CEOs and bowls should be making so much money… it should be the universities.
HailWV.com: How did Bowl Games manage to become non-profit ventures?
Brian Frederick: The relics have a bygone era where tourism depended on some big event every year to get a bunch of people to come out. It’s just not necessary anymore; they’re not drawing a lot of people.
Frederick mentioned the Pinstripe Bowl as an example, drawing people to NYC, with a middle of the pack Big 12 team taking on a lower-level Big East team.
HailWV.com: If a College Football playoff were to happen, what would happen to all the lower-level bowls (such as the Meineke Car Care Bowl)?
Brian Frederick: Some of those bowls might go away… I don’t think there’s no reason the bowl system and the playoff system can’t co-exist. However, teams that do not make the playoffs will want to participate in the post-season.
HailWV.com: Another issue that your site hasn’t addressed, but I feel is relevant, is… Should college athletes be “legally” paid some type of stipend for playing, as well as a % of sales from their jerseys and t-shirts being sold with their number on them?
Brian Frederick: We haven’t ventured into it… it’s one of those issues that divides fans. We try to find issues that all fans can agree on. Personally, I have no problem with college athletes being paid… they’re doing the work that’s getting the universities money. I personally think they deserve some of the money, and it would clean up some of the corruption.
The college football system as it is is broken… leads to some of the corruption that exists. Handful of conferences and schools have a lot of the power… there’s a lot at stake to keep this power. It’s clearly an unequal, convoluted system.
HailWV.com: Football season tickets at Mountaineer Field are relatively expensive—not only do you have to pay so much per ticket, but you are required to make a donation to the Mountaineer Athletic Club per ticket… oftentimes leaving fans out who only have money for season tickets, and not the season tickets plus the required donation. Is that the norm for most public university sports? If so, what’s the ideal way to curb the “required donation”, or at the very least, reign in out-of-control spending for College Sports, such as basketball and football?
Brian Frederick: It is the norm. My dad was the athletic director at Kansas… when Kansas instituted their new way of getting tickets for Allen Fieldhouse… the new points system was based on how much donations you made to the school, as well as bought ticket to the football games. It upset a lot of people who were season ticket holders for 40-50 years.
I think it’s unfortunate because schools feel like they have to do this in order to compete with other schools… it’s because of a system like the BCS that breeds that arms race. Where if there was a fair college playoff… those schools would have a more equitable distribution from the playoff because the NCAA would be in charge of it. It would be a more even footing, and teams wouldn’t have to keep raising as much money as they could.
Listen up, Fantasy Football players!
HailWV.com: I saw a petition on your site that I’m going to sign very soon, and encourage all of my fellow Fantasy Football nerds to sign. Why on earth would the NFL, MLB, etc charge sites like ESPN, Yahoo to use their stats that we see on TV? Is this just another cash-grab by the leagues in this terrible economy?
Brian Frederick: It is absolutely another cash-grab. They see everything in sports as being something they own the rights to. That’s because there’s never been a fan organization that’s been strong enough on the national level to say, “This is absurd.” That’s a good example of a system sinking to new depths for money.
Comcast hates sports fans everywhere
HailWV.com: Last question—your issue du jour seems to be a major beef with Comcast, and rightfully so. You and a few others are heading out to Oregon to hold a rally against Comcast. What is at stake here, and why should fans not only in the Pittsburgh market (where HailWV.com is located), but elsewhere in America, pay attention to the Blazers vs. Comcast feud?
Brian Frederick: Because what’s happening in Portland is a good example of how Comcast treats sports fans. There’s a very real threat if Comcast merges with NBC, what’s to stop them from saying, “If you want to watch NBC Sunday Night Football, you have to have Comcast.” Or the Olympics. Or if you want to watch certain Olympic events. Everyone should be made aware of this, and ask if this merger is in the best interest of everybody? Even greater media conglomeration. We’re going to go out there in raise hell in Portland, and get the media to force Comcast to explain themselves. Hopefully we get a resolution to that. Same with the people in Philadelphia have been dealing with this situation for 10 years… because Comcast owns the 76ers and the Flyers. You can’t watch the 76ers game without having Comcast. The FCC has ordered Comcast to show these games, and exploiting a loophole that allowed them to not show these games to non-Comcast subscribers. The FCC has closed the loophole and asked Comcast to begin showing the games… and Comcast said that didn’t apply to them.
Finally, I opened up the floor to allow Frederick a few last words and thoughts for our readers…
Brian Frederick: We would love to have as many Mountaineer fans join our organization as possible. We’d love to have someone on the ground there in Morgantown, fighting for the rights of the average sports fan. Any Mountaineer fan that wants to be the face of the SFC down there, keep in mind we’re just sticking up for the little guy. I do know the Mountaineers are good enough every year in football to be in a college football playoff. We need their help… the more members they have, the louder their voice… it would get the folks at ESPN and the other major networks to pay attention.
Good luck to your team on the court this season, I know there’s a lot of excitement now that you got your boy (Bob Huggins) back in town, and maybe our teams will meet on the court someday. (Mr. Frederick is a Kansas Jayhawks fan.)
To join the Sports Fans Coalition, go to their website: www.sportsfanscoalition.org. It is absolutely free to join.
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