November 28, 2011
The Indianapolis Colts are a sad, mopey, miserable football team that aggressively drains the life force out of anyone who watches them play because they want them to win.
Still, people expect them to be on television, which raises an interesting question: At what point does a local network television affiliate have a social responsibility to not show something that makes people so sad? It's like showing a live beheading in primetime. Yeah, it would probably be a ratings hit, but is it a good thing for society? When is it up to a TV station to protect viewers from themselves?
For the local Fox affiliate in Fort Wayne, Ind., just a two-hour drive from Indianapolis, that time came Sunday. Ten losses were enough. One more metaphorical shiv to the ribcage at the hands of Cam Newton(notes) and the Carolina Panthers? No thank you. The people of Fort Wayne will watch the Bears, and they'll like it. (Chicago is also only 200 miles away from Fort Wayne). From FortWayne.com:
The Fox channel had the rights to the Colts' home game, but it could only broadcast one game because CBS had the doubleheader Sunday. Indiana's NewsCenter chose the late-afternoon Chicago Bears game at Oakland over the Colts' 27-19 loss that dropped them to 0-11.
"The buck stops with me," Jerry Giesler, president and general manager of Indiana's NewsCenter, said in a telephone interview. "We talked a lot about it internally. Of course, the year in, year out logical choice would be the Colts. Absolutely, no question. The reason we went with the Bears was to follow the compelling story, their (playoff) hopes alive, a new quarterback."
It's not hard to read between the lines there. The Bears don't suck as much as the Colts, so they showed the Bears. What was going to happen, the Colts winning a game? Right. Might as well keep a camera on the walrus at the local zoo, just in case he decides to sprout wings, take flight and birth a litter of Australian sheep dogs at 4,000 feet.
I kid. Sometimes, I just like being absurdly dramatic. I can actually relate here. In 2000, I went to the local sports bar every week and begged them to put Chargers games on television, despite the fact that they lost their first 11 games. I know that there's a certain type of fan that wants to watch, needs to watch, even if all hope is gone. I feel for that fan.
But TV stations are going to do what TV stations do: chase numbers and chase money. That will always be the case. The world does no favors to people who love 0-11 football teams.
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