Entertaining On Both Sides Of The BallNovember 15th, 2012
Last night, Woody Cummings of The Tampa Tribune dropped a phone call to the “Mark Cook Experience,” starring (you guessed it) Mark Cook, heard locally on WHFS-FM 98.7, to talk Bucs football.
And as is the habit of local sports radio far too often, the boring subject of what strangers do with their cash (attendance) rose it’s ugly head, though the subject was not initiated by Cook.
Thankfully, it was not Rays attendance.
Cummings suggested Bucs fans are missing out on a quality product with all the blacked out home games, and Cummings was scratching his head in trying to figure out why the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway is not packed.
“They are an entertaining football team right now, an extremely entertaining football team. I’m a little surprised the fanbase hasn’t picked up on this a little more and bought into the team,” Cummings said. “They are missing a good show, is what they are missing, on both sides of the ball. Obviously the offense is dynamic and plenty of things to see there. But on defense, there is Mark Barron who is arguably already one of the better safety prospects this team has ever had, and Gerald McCoy is worth the price of admission and Lavonte David — if you think Doug Martin is the “Rookie of the Year,” this guy [David] has a better chance of at least wining the “Rookie of the Year” as a Buccaneer. In all likelihood Andrew luck has a better chance of winning; they always choose quarterbacks anyway. But Lavonte David is having just as good if not better season than Doug Martin and is probably more consistent. He’s been making big plays since the beginning of the year. They are entertaining on both sides of the ball.”
While Joe understands where Cummings is coming from, “this Joe” will once again repeat that we are in the midst of a cultural change as how fans consume sports. No longer is going to the games the preferred method. Hell, even NFL
warden commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged this. Yeah, HDTV and the convenience of home (cheaper/better food/beer, quick access to a bathroom sans a line) is a big reason, as is the plague of fantasy football.
Here’s another reason: Red Zone Channel.
Joe has only watched this once or twice and it was too ADD-ish for him. Joe enjoys watching how a game unfolds, not just glorified highlights.
For those unaware what the Red Zone Channel is, it is a channel run by the NFL Network broadcast only on Sunday afternoons. Whenever a team enters a red zone, the channel picks up that game’s broadcast feed. The broadcast bounces from stadium to stadium for the next six hours or so. Joe understands that fantasy football types are drawn to this channel like a hungry Doberman Pinscher is to a steak.
And, oh by the way, now that Red Zone Channel is carried by Bright House Networks, nearly every home in the Tampa Bay area has access to the Red Zone Channel, whereas prior to this season, that was not the case.
Throw in the fact that NFC South foes do not draw fans anywhere close to the Stadium on Dale Mabry Highway like the old NFC North teams, and there’s little wonder to “this Joe” why the Bucs, even with one of the most exciting teams in the NFL, struggle to reach the 85 percent capacity of non-premium seats.
It’s hard to convince consumers to pay more for less. Fans preferring to stay at home is a trend, a cultural trend, that is not likely to be reversed any time soon.
Once one wraps their arms around this, the attendance debate becomes little more than white noise for lesser sports radio hosts.