News, Sports

Physically Challenged Bills Fan Protests Blackout Rule

Fred Jackson
In 2011, Running back, Fred Jackson, scored 6 touchdowns in just 10 games for the Buffalo Bills. Image: Ed Yourdon

Ralph Wilson Stadium – the home field for the Buffalo Bills football team – seats more than 70,000 people.

If the Bills do not sell every last ticket to a home game, the game is not shown on TV.

This is a rule put in place by the National Football League (NFL). It’s called a “blackout rule.” TV games are “blacked out” – not shown – if the stadium is not full.

That’s to help sell tickets. When a game is shown on TV, it’s cheaper and more convenient for people to stay home and watch it rather than go to the stadium.

Blackouts are a big problem for Bills fans who are elderly or physically challenged and find it difficult to get to the stadium for games.

Arthur MacDonald used to own Bills season tickets. MacDonald has been a Bills fan for years. He recently posted a video on YouTube asking the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, to end blackouts.

Both Macdonald and his wife have physical challenges that make it hard for them to watch the game live at the stadium. MacDonald’s wife is in a wheelchair and he said he finds it too difficult to push her around the stadium.

The way things work now, if the Bills home game is not sold out, MacDonald does not get to watch it live. Last season, only four of the Bills’ seven home games sold out.

MacDonald points out that his taxes have helped pay to build the Bills’ stadium and that blackouts punish local fans who continue to support the team through their tax dollars.

Related link:

View MacDonald’s video on YouTube here (1:04).


By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
When someone is in a wheelchair, what are the obstacles that could make it difficult for them to get around in a stadium? What are some things that stadium owners could build to help fans in wheelchairs?

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
So far, Roger Goodell has not responded to Arthur Macdonald’s youtube video. What should Roger Goodell and the NFL do?

Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence
from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Blackout vs. Black out
The word “blackout” is a word that can mean many things (noun). It can mean: (i) an amount of time where something is not done–suspension; (ii) darkness; (iii) an event where power fails; (iv) a temporary loss of consciousness.

When the words are separated–black out– the words become an action (verb). Like “blackout,” “black out” also has many different definitions: (i) to not allow someone to see (censor); (ii) to make something black; (iii) to lose consciousness.

Write a sentence for each definition of the words “blackout” and “black out.”