Siena’s cool idea needlessly nixed by NFL

The “No Fun League” is back again.

Siena (6-8) is a MAAC school located in Albany, New York. The Saints have had a decent season thus far but had the misfortune of scheduling their game against Niagara (6-10) right at 1 p.m.

What’s 1 p.m. on Sunday in October through January? Football time. Four weeks ago as the Giants lost to the Redskins it didn’t seem like it would matter. There wasn’t going to be a local team in the playoffs.

All of a sudden, after beating the Jets and Cowboys on back-to-back weeks, the Giants are miraculously in the playoffs again and in the premiere Sunday time slot. (Because they’re the Giants.) Siena knew it had a big conflict. Sure, junior O.D. Anisoke is going for a school record 11th straight double-double, but that’s not going to compete with Eli Manning vs. Matt Ryan and Giants vs. Falcons on a Sunday afternoon.

That is until the Saints’ athletic department came up with a creative solution. Offer to show the Giants’ playoff game on the scoreboard during their game. This would be so cool for a number of reasons.

  1. It would’ve allowed fans of the Giants and Saints to watch both games. The only other way you’re doing that is with a television and an ESPN3 account. It’s not the same.
  2. Fans would’ve had an awesome communal experience, something Giants fans desperately need considering how inconsistent their talented, but flawed team is.

It seems like the perfect plan. Fans could watch both; feel the success and heartbreak of both. (I can just imagine a random cheer coming from the crowd during a media timeout as Victor Cruz broke for a long touchdown.)

And this morning NFL executives killed the idea. Apparently the possibility of about 6,500 fans (Siena’s average home attendance) enjoying a football game together is in violation of the NFL’s copyright policy. Showing the game on a screen bigger than one in someone’s home is a no-no.

Something around 25% of all people in the New York City market, the largest in the nation, are going to be watching the Giants play on Sunday, but the NFL couldn’t allow 6,500 fans to watch the game together in Albany?

Apparently not. Siena even had a conference call with the NFL office to straighten this mess out. But the college’s director of athletics John D’Argenio was told that the NFL just doesn’t grant permission for this type of thing. D’Argenio told Mark Singelais of the Albany Times Union, “At the end of the day, I made a rookie mistake, and I’m not a rookie.”

Was trying to energize a fan base for a mid-January basketball game when sitting slightly below .500 that bad of an idea? And is it such a bad precedent for the NFL to set? I doubt many teams would’ve even been creative enough or aware enough of their fan base to come up with a solution like this. Plus, I highly doubt Siena was going to fill the 8,065 seat Times Union Center because it was showing the Giants game on TV.

All it would’ve done was engender a bit of goodwill and let fans enjoy both of their January loves, college basketball and playoff football on a Sunday afternoon.

Creative thinking? Paying attention to your fan base? Not allowed if it involves the “No Fun League.”

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