January 28, 2021

TV blackout fills Bowl with sour grapes

Let me just begin by saying, right up front, that I am in high pout mode. And I have been for the last 20 or so hours.

Round about 4 p.m. Sunday, I settled into my recliner, picked up the remote, and discovered our local television station was broadcasting golf.

Golf. Did I mention it was 4 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday? By my calculations, the pregame show of the much-hyped and overanalyzed meeting of the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots should have been well under way.

Now, while I do enjoy the annual clashing of the gridiron titans, I can’t say missing the pregame babble is any big deal. But golf (golf?) in its place was an ominous sign.

Sure enough, as the seconds to kickoff ticked away, it became increasingly obvious our local station would not be broadcasting this year’s Super Bowl.

Never mind the matchup featured the closest thing Maine has to a home team. Never mind this same station had been reveling in New England’s Jan. 27 playoff win against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. And certainly never mind these same sportscasters had given no indication all their previews were leading not to the game itself, but to golf and back-to-back reruns of “60 Minutes.”

How could this be?

OK, so I live in Fort Kent, the backwoods, the hinterland, beyond the pale. And there are certain amenities – such as paved roads and the availability of cable – I have gotten used to doing without. But did that list have to include missing the game of the season?

Apparently, yes.

And as with many of life’s disappointments, this one came down to money.

According to a spokesperson at the station I talked to Monday, the Fox network had the contract to broadcast the game. Any other station could receive the feed, at what the station rep referred to as, “an astronomical cost.”

Of course, this is the same local television station that last Friday morning predicted a snowstorm of up to 18 inches hitting our area, followed by an evening lead broadcast featuring two reporters out in the field (one following the plow trucks and the other shivering in a parking lot) while the meteorologist said the final snowfall of 5 inches was due to “less than expected precipitation.”

Now there’s money well spent.

So there I sat Sunday evening, remote in hand, but utterly powerless to do anything about the programming. I consoled myself with a hefty portion of sour grapes.

“Everyone knows,” I told myself, “that the Super Bowl is always the most boring game of the year.” History is on my side on this one – just check out past years’ scores of teams winning by huge, double-digit margins.

This year surely will be no different, I figured. So no need to bundle up, fire up the four-wheel-drive and throw myself on my neighbors’ (the ones with the satellite dish) mercy.

An online check of the score during the game’s third period seemed to reinforce my move – or lack thereof. Sure the score had the Patriots ahead by 17-3, a bit of a surprise, but there was not much time left and what could happen in the game’s remaining 15 minutes?

How about a St. Louis scoring surge, a tie score, and a dramatic last-minute Pats’ field goal at the buzzer to clinch the win?

Who wouldn’t be pouting?

I have a feeling I’m not the only one up here in the sticks, the backwoods, the hinterland, beyond the pale doing so right about now.

Julia Bayly is a freelance writer and frequent NEWS contributor who lives in Fort Kent.

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