We collaborated to create the largest, most effective sports fans’ advocacy group in the U.S. Sports Fans Coalition continues to drive changes benefiting consumers and industry.
First, we identified a common set of problems shared by fans and major industry players. Sports leagues were blacking out games from television, and allowing some of their media partners to do the same, much to the frustration of fans and many major television distributors. Similarly, local tax policy was being used to subsidize sports arenas to the detriment of consumers and major corporations experiencing discriminatory taxation.
Second, we assembled a group of industry players who were impacted by league practices. We reached out to public interest groups from across the political spectrum and appealed to them to use our sports frame as a way to broaden their own appeal.
Third, we appealed directly to the fans themselves, particularly in the most impacted markets, and built a large list of committed sports fans willing to add their names to petitions, letters, blog posts, and other communications. We used social networks, online appeals, and old-fashioned clip boards and pencils to build a nationwide list of energetic supporters.
Fourth, we identified key audiences in policy and business communities who could affect change, then reached them by systematically driving story after story in major publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated, plus detailed coverage in industry trade press. We drove coverage online, including ESPN.com, Politico.com, The Huffington Post, Deadspin.com, and multiple blogs. We secured television coverage on local broadcast affiliates and national cable/satellite news networks. We conducted dozens of interviews across the nation on sports talk radio, both terrestrial and Sirius/XM. We leveraged political, sports, and business press to achieve maximum exposure.
Next, we instigated government action to draw increased attention and credibility to our cause. We drafted and filed a formal petition at the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) which resulted in the FCC launching a proceeding to examine eliminating the Sports Blackout Rule, the first such docket in the nearly forty-year history of the rule. We secured support from Members of Congress in both parties, Senate and House. Thousands of fans wrote to the FCC in support of our petition. Separately, we testified before state legislatures on related sports media and taxation issues, from New Jersey to Washington State.
In July of 2012, the NFL announced a relaxation of its blackout policy, the first such change in four decades and a direct result of our advocacy. In remarks from the floor of the House of Representatives, one Member of Congress recognized Sports Fans Coalition as a major reason why positive change was happening.
Sports Fans Coalition corporate supporters include:
Public interest supporters include:
Other Supporters include:
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