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Preparing for a Year Without Football

July 25, 2010

I’m connected to the world by high-definition television, broadband internet and a 3G mobile network.  I live on the inferred border of Chargers Territory and Raider Nation, one of the top high-school quarterback recruiting hotspots in the country. My wife works for a station group that carries roughly 90% of all NFL games during the year.

If I’m going to make it a whole year without football, I’m going to need a solid plan.

When taking inventory of what it would take to cut off football from my intake of sports media, I immediately noticed how much of my information originated from a single, large contributor, with other regular visits to websites thrown in.

Here’s the gameplan:

The Cartel

As the largest promoter of the NFL and college football, I theorize that about 75% of my access of the sport goes through the far-reaching ESPN properties. The brand exists on just about every single accessible platform available. Take a look at how much time they’re devoting to football now that the LeBron signing is off the radar; College Football Scoreboard/Gameday in July?! In order to most effectively avoid football, I’ll need to excise ESPN from every means of contact.

Television

Restrictions: As a high-definition cable subscriber with the sports package, there are a total of eleven channels which will be purged: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNNews, ESPNU and the Big Ten Network will each be blocked on standard and hi-def, while ESPN Classic is only available to be blocked in standard-def.  For the rest of the period, I’ll need to check the TV listings ahead of time to make sure any stations airing a football game are avoided.

Focus Shift: One of the things I most anticipate is exposure to the way in which other networks cover the broader sports landscape.  Channels such as the Fox Sports nets and Versus will hopefully step up and fill the void.  I’m not too optimistic about this based on prior experiences, but Versus has made strides in their programming.

Complications: I’m not sure if my college hoops team is playing on the road vs. a Big Ten school, but this would be the only way I’d need to watch the network.  Since Northeastern is an emerging mid-major workhorse they’ll definitely appear on the Cartel.  Luckily, the school’s student radio station does a remarkable job of traveling to cover these games, allowing me to follow online from the other side of the country.

Internet – media

Restrictions: I’d love to visit a site like SI.com, register and restrict NFL/NCAA stories from the main page.  None of the major U.S. sports news pages offer this service.  An option here is to bookmark specific leagues (i.e. cbssports.com/nhl), but depending on how intently you wish to stay connected, I could be racking up quite a few bookmarks.

Focus Shift: Overseas.  Sites from the UK, Australia and even Canada do a terrific job of reporting sports news from all over the world while giving the NFL a diminished presence (NCAA sports don’t even register on the international radar…perfect!). Otherwise, I’ll be heading directly to the league websites, where some truly underrated up-and-coming writers are providing some insightful commentary.

Complications: Even the BBC reports blurbs from significant NFL moments such as the Super Bowl or superstar crime blotter.

Internet – social

Restrictions: The only restriction I’ll be able to make is via Twitter. At the moment I’m not a heavy contributor to the service but I do receive updates. I’ll need to unsubscribe from some users such as Bill Simmons.  Also, for the first time in years, no fantasy football.

Complications: There is currently no way to filter specific keywords out of the Facebook News Feed. This comes down to skimming past any football comments on Saturdays and Sundays.

Other media restrictions

Goodbye sports radio.  The medium can’t help it.  Football, by its very nature, is a low-investment, single serving sport to follow.  Watch the games on Saturday & Sunday, talk about the game Monday & Tuesday, try to get the coach fired on Wednesday, comment on injuries on Thursday, comment on upcoming game Friday, repeat.  You only have to commit to one or two games per week to hold your own with a sports talk host, who will milk every second for an entire week’s worth of airtime.  If I’m in the car, I’m either tuned to NPR or playing music off my Droid through the car’s Bluetooth.

Local news stations and newspapers do a pretty solid job of segregating their main news pages from their sports sections, so they’ll remain in play.

Of course, the wildcard will be hearsay and idle conversation during the week.  I’ve conceded that I’ll inevitably overhear an odd score or update every now and then, but I’m still going to make the effort to avoid football as best as I can.

That’s the operational plan.  Feel free to make any suggestions or comments that might help out.  Next time, I’ll lay out the consequences for failing to avoid football on a daily basis including a potential beneficiary.

DR

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One Comment
  1. Chris Stango permalink
    July 26, 2010 8:31 PM

    Interesting experiment Devin. Looking forward to following along.

    I think the outside exposure is going to be really tough to avoid. Not just overhearing conversations, but TV’s showing games in bars, restaurants, family parties (Thanksgiving Day), etc. It’s not like you’re actively seeking out football coverage in these situations… it’ll just reinforce how surrounded we are by it (whether we want to be, or not).

    Good luck!

    – Stango

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