This past Super Bowl, the NFL intervened with a church that was simply trying to have a Super Bowl party as a fund raiser. Apparently the league had a serious problem with the church making money off of the game, despite the funds going towards a charitable cause.
The NFL also has a rule that prohibits people from airing a game in their own home if they have a television over 55", and if the home owners have friends over to watch the game on it.
It gets even more insane. Technically it is a copyright infringement to even describe the events of a game. I once read that there was a website that allowed people to play the role of a game analyst. If someone were to dislike the announcers provided by the TV station, then they would have the option of logging onto the website and listening to someone's private broadcast. Unfortunately that idea was put to bed, as it is illegal to even describe the events of a game, meaning that this blog is technically against the rules.
When is the NFL going to appreciate the fans that make the game what it is? I refuse to believe that professional sporting events are actually entertainment outlets similar to movies and music; I believe that they are community activities, and that the NFL has no right to claim the games as their own.
I understand that the games have to create a profit, and that there are many people who work for the league, and they require salaries. I'm not suggesting some sort of communistic revolt, where the players, fans, and executives are all treated equally, and where fans can just waltz into the stadium free on charge.
That doesn't mean that the league should avoid any leniency at all costs. I have a hard time believing that websites that stream games live can replace the experience of watching a game on an high-definition flat screen, maybe it would deter some people from purchasing the 'Sunday Ticket', but not in massive quantities. And there is nothing that beats the experience of watching a game live in the stadium, meaning ticket sales would still exist, and surely games would still sell out.
Watching a game on a 4" by 7" flash player is hardly the preference of anyone. People who can afford to watch the game on their TV sets will continue to do so, and season ticket holders will never trade their game day experience for a miniature screen with poor quality.
The only fans willing to watch the game on a tiny screen with low resolution are the hardcore fans that are doing it as a last resort. Given the poor economy, it is hardly the the time to strong-arm fans into spending money they can't afford, to watch a team they love, especially when those fans have been heavy supporters in the past.
Maybe the possible NFL work stoppage in 2011 is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps the ridiculousness of millionaire athletes arguing with billionaire owners will finally piss the fans off good enough to completely boycott everything once the games resume. Maybe the NFL will cut the bullshit, and treat fans for what they really are, which is the heart and soul of the entire operation... but that's not likely, and in the meantime the NFL will continue to kick-in church doors, and they will continue to sue people for simply discussing the game.