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Are you ready for some football?

Posted 3 September 2014 12:00 AM by Cindy Earehart Rinker

The answer to that question remains a resounding “Yes!” in America, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune that have pummeled the sport in general and the NFL in particular.

We have come to clearly understand that a “concussion” means a lot more than just having your bell rung. Media has been rife with commentary about the dangers of multiple concussions or even one in just the right place. Then there are the off-the-gridiron actions of NFL players which continued to grab the spotlight. The slap on the wrist to Ray Rice in reaction to abusing his then-fiancée brought enough outcries that the NFL did take some action – just in time for the next offender, Ray MacDonald.

And then there is that perennial pain football fans must endure that is the Blackout Rule. This rule seems incredibly arbitrary to most people and there is a good reason for that. Here is the actual rule from Wikipedia: In the NFL, any broadcaster that has a signal that hits any area within a 75-mile radius of an NFL stadium may only broadcast a game if that game is an away game or if the game sells out 72 hours or more before the start time of the game.  In that case, the NFL team can request an extension. So, the NFL seems to be saying if we sell out, you fans who cannot afford to come can watch it on TV. But if there are too many of you who can’t afford to come, hope you have RedZone so at least you can see the touchdowns. (Shentel does offer RedZone, now.)

The Blackout Rule has been around since the 1970s, but it is now under fire from the Federal Communications Commission. Commissioner Ajit Pai called the rules outdated and in need of repeal or updating. He has asked Chairman Tom Wheeler to let the five commissioners vote on it in the near future.

It’s all very complicated and political. Much more complicated than the game on the field. So I will ask you that question again. Are you really ready for some football?

Cindy Earehart Rinker, former editor and general manager of a local newspaper, currently is a marketing supervisor at Shentel.