It’s a simple formula.
As a child, you watch a sport, you begin to like a team, and you begin to like players on the aforementioned team, which leads you to wanting to see the team live and purchasing products with the team’s name on them. From there, you teach your children about the team (every single day if you idiotically marry a fan of a rival team), which gets them interested in the team and the tree of sports continues to grow.
This is the story of sports and the spreading of sports.
Blacking out games is a chainsaw to the sports tree.
Any Chicagoan (yes, all life lessons come back to Chicago), in their 20s or early 30s are prime examples of what blacking out a sport can do.
Bill Wirtz was the owner of Chicago Blackhawks for 41 years. He was known as “Dollar Bill” Wirtz thanks to his enjoyment of keeping money in his pocket.
Wirtz was blamed for allowing Bobby Hull to leave the Hawks along with the loss of Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour and trading Denis Savard, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Phil Esposito.
Wirtz was a huge reason for the Blackhawks’ owning the second longest championship drought in NHL history and longest in team history. In 2004, the Chicago Blackhawks were named the worst franchise in all of sports and in 2002 Wirtz was named the third greediest owner in all of sports.
Aside from trading hall of fame talent and causing hockey stars to never want any association with the Blackhawks, Wirtz was and never should be forgiven for forbidding Blackhawks home games to be shown on TV unless they were picked up by national broadcasters, which only happened when the Blackhawks made the playoffs.
He actually tried to explain the nonsense by saying broadcasting regular home games was unfair to season-ticket holders.
Wirtz even tried to start Hawkvision, a pay-per-view service, which cost $29.95 a month during the 1992 and 1993 seasons for Blackhawks home games.
Thanks to this, my generation did not grow up with hockey in what was once considered a hockey town. Only now, after Bill Wirtz died and his son took over and changed everything, has hockey come back to life in Chicago.
Blackhawk jerseys are now seen everywhere in Chicago and the generation behind me had a chance to understand and love hockey.
Now onto the Vikings. The attempt to attach a bill forbidding blackouts to the stadium bill was a pipe dream, but was commendable. Considering the taxpayers are paying for this new stadium, shouldn’t they be guaranteed a chance to watch their team play in it, regardless of who shows up?
The idea of blacking out a game if it did not sell out within 72 hours was introduced in 1973. Vikings don’t have too much to worry about, considering they have sold out 144 consecutive games and have not been blacked out since 1997.
The blackout, however, is a slippery slope. It’s basically a league scolding fans for not showing up to see what the fans feel is a bad product. The NFL could care less about the little kid wanting to watch his newfound favorite player from his living room.
Let the kid watch his team. Let him enjoy sports now before he gets older and all he reads about is arrests, steroids and basically anything associated with the NCAA.