Local option: Why can't UVA & Tech fans watch games?
I love listening to football on the radio. When I go to a game, I always take my little Bell & Howell worldband with me so I can tune in; football games are often much easier to follow with some play-by-play. Then again, it’s not that easy to follow a game on the radio unless you're watching as well. As much as I enjoy it, radio commentary can be confusing and frustrating. But often fans are left with no other choice.
While UVA was handing William and Mary their bus fare on September 3, I wasn’t in front of the television. I was trying to hear the game over the hubbub of a Saturday night kitchen: the dishwasher, the dog, the baby, the phone. Only my husband was quiet, mulling over his fantasy picks. The atmosphere was not exactly conducive to following a football game on the radio. Frustrated by hearing cheers and boos that meant nothing, I asked my husband to take some notes on what was happening.
Here’s what I learned: Virginia wasn’t just outplaying William and Mary; they were crushing them. Michael Rocco and Kevin Parks are a formidable pair; kicker Robert Randolph is much improved; and coach London’s young team has a thing or two to learn about penalties (how to avoid committing them, for example). I learned the team that has been a big question mark is ready with some answers. Even over the din in my kitchen, I didn’t need my husband’s notes to tell me that the time has come for cautious optimism.
More importantly, I learned that local television stations should find a way to wrestle back the right to air local games. (Be honest: did you really want to watch Oregon v. LSU?)
On Sunday, I went to church and found the Tech fan in the next pew ignorant of the previous night’s goings-on at Scott Stadium. When he turned to my mother and said, “Did you see that game yesterday? Tech really crushed them! 66-13!” she answered, “So did Virginia: 40-3!” Polite man that he is, he answered, “Oh, did they? I didn’t hear,” and went right back to his bulletin.
A smack in the face, yes, but a surprise, no.
Is it too much to ask that Richmond and Roanoke television stations find a way to air local games? Granted, opening-day games aren’t in-conference match-ups. But really, Boise State and Georgia? Georgia’s ranked 19. We live in an age when we can pause live television; don’t tell me there’s not a way to make more games available.
But even if local stations do want to do better by viewers, what weapons do WWBT or WSLS have against the suits who govern college football’s television rights? Especially when those suits are boldly implementing their grand plan?
Two conferences, somewhat geographically subdivided, are peeking over the horizon. Super-conferences are the hope on which a true national championship (and billions of dollars) rest, and heaven help us, it’s coming. By denying local air time for what they consider negligible college programs, the Bowl Championship Series and its TV flunkies will reroute the fan bases of schools like Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Maryland to schools like Ohio State and USC. It’s a brilliant, albeit diabolical plan, against which no local station can prevail.
Frustrating or not, the radio is where many fans will be forced to turn more frequently. It’s only a matter of time until that’s our only option. I recommend the Bell & Howell.
Juanita lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son and many dogs.