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Pierce: A few foolish NFL fans throw obscenities at KUTV

Published December 31, 2013 2:29 pm

Sports on TV • CBS won't allow local station to switch games.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Guess what? If KUTV had had the option of switching to the Chargers-Chiefs game on Sunday, it would have.

And guess what else? Cursing out Channel 2's sports director wasn't going to change that situation.

Some local NFL fans — a select few — clearly demonstrated on Sunday afternoon that they have no understanding of how television works. They are under the impression that a local station can tell its network what to do. In reality, it's generally the other way around.

CBS affiliates can request regional NFL games, but those requests have to come two weeks before games are played. So in mid-December, KUTV requested the Broncos-Raiders game.

(If you tell me you knew on Dec. 15 just how big the San Diego-Kansas City game would be, you're lying. We didn't know that until about 2 p.m. Sunday.)

When Channel 2 doesn't request Denver, "We certainly hear from Broncos fans," said Jennifer Dahl, KUTV's director of news and operations. "They're very vocal."

As it turned out, a lot of local fans — including yours truly — would have preferred to see Chargers vs. Chiefs. Not just because it was a better game — San Diego won 27-24 in overtime — but because it had implications for the Steelers as well as the Chiefs and the Chargers.

It did not, however, occur to me to call KUTV sports director Nate Dowdle and toss f-bombs at him. Which is exactly what a select few local fans did.

Here's one of the more mild exchanges Dowdle had with a fan Sunday on Twitter:

• @BlockU — "Thank God KUTV is staying with the Denver-Oakland game instead of switching over to the thrilling Chargers game."

• Dowdle — "If you think we have ANY control over this, you're up in the night. Call CBS in NYC."

• @BlockU — "Call for me! You probably carry more weight."

Well, actually, no. CBS does not switch away from a game in progress for anything other than highlights. Which you'd think fans might have noticed over the years.

Denver's game wasn't meaningless — the win nailed down the AFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for as long as the Broncos stay alive in the playoffs. But it was over early — it was 31-0 at halftime en route to a 34-14 victory; Oakland didn't score until the fourth quarter.

But that doesn't matter. And this was CBS' call.

Which made it more frustrating for Dowdle, who was getting calls from fans who were screaming and swearing at him. That's never acceptable, and it's even more exasperating when you're getting cursed out for something you can't control.

The dangers of Twitter were on display Sunday afternoon. A clearly frustrated Dowdle, using his personal account, referred to the people who were emailing obscenities at him or cussing him out on the phone as "idiots" and "tools." Some other viewers interpreted that as shots at all KUTV viewers.

"It doesn't represent the station at all," Dahl said.

Dowdle apologized. As much as I sympathize with him — and I completely sympathize with him — the apology was absolutely in order.

He can't say it, but I will. The fans who abused Dowdle on the phone or via email are idiots.

They should apologize to him.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.






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