To the point week of 2/1/07

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WITH THE BIG GAME in the National Football League set for this Sunday in Miami, people all around Indiana – but fans of the American Conference champions who reside in our state capital; and fans in the northern part of the state who root for the National Conference champs who reside just across the state line in Illinois – are getting fired up for the game.

Just don’t get too fired up.

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Hoosier State Press Association, the organization of nearly every newspaper, daily and weekly, big and small, in Indiana.

Newspaper people are also sports fans, so with our annual meeting in Indianapolis, naturally there was a buzz with all of the blue and white decorating the town.

That’s when we found out that NFL actually does stand for “No Fun League”.

Our association’s general counsel, Steve Key, informed all of us that the NFL, the Colts, and Bears ownership were taking steps to guard their trademarks and copyrights heading into the big game.

We were reminded that the unauthorized use of names, logos, and other trademarks was “strictly prohibited”; and that none of those things could be used in any form of commercial or trade purposes.

That includes advertising, promotions, contests, sweepstakes, and other things without first getting permission from the NFL and the Colts and/or Bears first.

Newspapers were told not to encourage businesses to include the names “Super Bowl”, “NFL”, “Colts”, and/or “Bears”; not to use any logos that symbolize those teams or events or organizations, in any advertisement unless we received permission first.

Several newspapers around central Indiana whose editors are friends of mine ran promotional pages after the AFC Championship Game congratulating the Colts and wishing them well in the Super Bowl.

They all got letters from lawyers telling them it better not happen again.

A couple of newspapers ran full page “posters” in their papers so that people could cut them out and put them in their window to show support. They were blue and said “Go Colts!” on them, nothing else.

Another nasty letter.

Newspapers in the northwestern part of the state ran ads saluting the Bears – more letters.

The best came from the community of New Castle, Indiana, where the publisher of the paper came into possession of two tickets to the big game and decided to run a contest among his readers and give them away.

His nasty letter said that he couldn’t do that unless he was authorized, so he called and asked how to get “authorized”.

He was told that he would have to pay an $8,000 “authorization fee”, and then he could continue with his contest.

Make sure you didn’t miss this: They asked him to pay $8,000 for the right to give away two tickets that had been paid for.

So all of this begs the question: does the NFL and its teams really want you to be fans? Or do they just want your money?

When you see figures that it will costs between $100-$400 to park your car to go to the game, and tickets are going for more than $1,000 for nose-bleed seats; and the NFL is doing nothing to curb that; you can’t help but wonder why they’re having legal teams write nasty letters to newspapers and businesses who are simply trying to show public support for their favorite team.

An idea to open up the RCA Dome this Sunday night so that Colts fans could go in and watch the game in mass on the jumbo screens was shot down by the NFL. Wouldn’t a normal reaction be to want people to gather together and enjoy the game and cheer on their favorite team?

Doesn’t that make sense?

I’m sure that all around the area, restaurants and bars and other places will be gathering points for people to go this Sunday and spend time watching the game and cheering. On Monday, lots of people around the state will suffer from “blue throat”, which was a fun name that hoarse Indianapolis fans have given their ailment.

But we won’t be able to tell you much about that, because we aren’t authorized.

So, in keeping with trademark and copyright laws, here’s our statement:

This Sunday, February 4th, in a city in Southern Florida, two teams playing the American version of a sport known as “football” will meet to decide which is the best for the year. These two teams are part of a professional organization, and the game will be “superb”.

One of the teams hails from the capital city of our state; while fans in the northern area of out state may in fact cheer for a team hailing from the nation’s third largest city, which sits in close proximity to the northwest corner of our state.

This “grizzly” affair promises some great action, if – of course – you have the “horse sense” to watch the game.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the black jerseys versus the white jerseys.