Follow-up interview: Brian Frederick, Sports Fans Coalition


Back on November 17th, 2010, I interviewed Brian Frederick, Executive Director of the Sports Fans Coalition. [HERE]

We discussed how much Comcast hates sports fans by not making their “Comcast SportsNet” channels available to others in their respective areas simply because they refused to have Comcast give them their cable. We also discussed the BCS, among other things.

Now that the Super Bowl is over (Sorry, I have no sympathies for most of the Steelers fans… just a few select friends who paid me to be nice to them), we’re all asking: Are we going to have a 2011 NFL season?

The Sports Fans Coalition recently launched SIGN THE PETITION! Seriously, it takes 2 seconds.

Brian Frederick was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of his time for a follow-up interview

Picking up where we left off last time, I asked Frederick what happened out in Portland, OR with his rally against Comcast, as well as the recent NBC Universal-Comcast merger:

The latest is that the Dept. of Justice and the FCC ruled that Comcast has to negotiate in good faith, or go through arbitration, with other companies to provide Blazers games. We’re trying to work to get those companies and Comcast to the table to get a resolution. Our chapter chair out there, and other fans, are working out there to rally other fans to put pressure on Comcast.

That’s definitely good news, and that means in the near-future, Comcast can’t give the middle finger to sports fans anymore.

However, the main reason I wanted to interview him was about the potential NFL lockout. First thing Frederick said is what we, as fans, can do.

Most important thing is to spread the word, get as many people signed up as we can. The point is  we have ALL fans united into one voice. That will have several effects- the first is, when we present a petition, it’ll send the message we have unified fans. A petition gives us a way to unify fans, and if we need to take action, we’ll be organized. It’ll also allow us to get messages out… the best messages on the lockout are sent out. We are up against a huge media conglomerate.

I also asked him about the recent debacle at the Super Bowl in JerryWorld with the fans who purchased a ticket, yet were turned away. Personally, I didn’t believe the NFL spin for one second.

They had more than enough time to prepare, and they tried to cram as many people in as possible to max profits—and they didn’t get the tjob done. Rather than realizing they were in trouble, which they knew they had problems mid-week last week, they tried to gamble and it didn’t pay off. It’s really indicitaive of the NFL’s willingness to put profit above the experience of the average, everyday fan. So many people affected were season-ticket holders. This wasn’t people in the luxury seats being affected, it was the true fans there to see their teams. Nothing the NFL offers them can make up for being stuck in a basement trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

This is the biggest cultural event of the year—a lot of people have paid good money for these seats.

As far as the NFL PR spin, I think a lot of people were swayed by PTI (Pardon the Interruption), saying they got enough. They got 3x the money of the ticket, which for some people, didn’t cover the full amount of the tickets; they paid that and the full cost of the trip. They also got tickets to next year’s Super Bowl—that’s assuming there is a Super Bowl. What’s the point of going to a Super Bowl if their team doesn’t even make it?

Another part of the spin is that they got free food, free beer, free merchandise. Not everyone got that. And, what good is being on the field after the game if they missed the game? It shows how the NFL treats its average fans.

I asked Frederick to break down what’s at stake here in these labor talks and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the players and owners.

The players are content with the way things are—such as the bargaining agreement. The owners want more money, bigger share of the revenues. The owners also want an 18-game season, as well as a rookie salary cap. It’s all about increasing their share of the revenue.

I had to ask Frederick in the event of a lockout, if we could see a situation similar to The Replacements with scab players on the field (and sending all of our teams to hell)

It’s highly unlikely, several things would have to happen—scab players are in the event of a strike; replacement players can’t play unless the union decertifies, which we’re not sure if they’re going to do that or not.

Another thing Frederick has been doing in the past few months is meeting with the big-wigs on Capitol Hill regarding the NFL Lockout. (Trust me, from personal experience, it’s not as impressive as it sounds. However, they are “the gubamint” and they make, enforce and interpret the laws and regulations of America.)

Well, so I’ve met with the staffs of a few Senators just to sort of inform them of the situation and tell them about our efforts. I’ve actually met with a member of the Commerce Committee staff that Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) chairs. They may, in the future, have congressional hearings on the issue, and we want to let them know about our issues. We hope to not have Congress’ involvement, that’s where the fans come in first. Cities around the country have spent $6.5 billion to fund stadiums.

Part of the reason owners are asking for more money is that the gravy train they’ve been on (as far as stadiums go) is drying up. Fans & taxpayers are realizing these are bad investments.

My roommate posed this question for me to ask Frederick, and I asked him what would happen to all the revenue generated from TV contracts (CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN).

The TV companies including DirecTV will be paying the owners that money anyway. So, the owners will still get the TV money and they’ll have to make it up on the back-end next time they renegotiate the TV deal. What the players were concerned about is that the owners will survive the lockout.

Frederick briefly mentioned that if there is not a new CBA reached by March 1, 2011; the players (and their families) will be cutoff from ALL their health benefits. Finally, to wrap up this interview, I gave him the final word on what the fans can do to save next season.

They can certainly visit regularly and interact with the great group of writers we have over there, and they can contact us if they have ideas on how fans can fight for their rights on some of these issues. We’d love to have as many fans as possible to be with us… and we think the more fans we have with us, the louder our voices will be. One thing that would really help is for fans to contact media outlets regarding the important fan petition going around. It’s not just the owners and players, it’s the owners, players and fans. Too often, unfortunately, the sports media benefits from having access to the media and doesn’t wanna bite the hand that feeds them… they don’t want to talk about the fans; they want to be the voice of the fans despite not having the fans best interest at hand.

We’d like to thank Brian Frederick for taking time out of his day to follow-up with us.