In the grand scheme of things, does it matter that L.A. gets the Chargers’ final game of the year? Yes.


Half-truths, false advertising and more lip service about why living in an NFL-free Los Angeles environment doesn’t provide all the Utopian benefits you’d come to rely on after all these years:

On the final day of the NFL’s regular season, some of you will warm up the tubes in your TV set, wait for the picture to finally flicker on and, after fiddling with the needle-nose pliers to make the broken dial line up with the No. 2, have every reason in the modern world to go absolutely bonkers.

The San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game is on, and the Tennessee Titans-Indianapolis Colts game isn’t.

You already spent New Year’s Day flipping around trying to find the Rose Bowl, only to have a neighbor tell you it was banished to cable this year, long before that Wisconsin-TCU matchup was created.

But now, two days into the new year, 2011 has already been ruined. You’re standing on your porch, aiming your shotgun to the sky and wondering which satellite you can pick off without anyone noticing.

Then the telegrams and phone calls start.

“Is this a conspiracy by DirecTV to get us to subscribe to ‘NFL Sunday Ticket’?” one will ask.

“Does anyone there know these teams moved away from L.A. years ago, and we’re just fine with that?” another chimes in. “If that’s the case, why wouldn’t Fox try to cram St. Louis Rams’ games down our throat as well. The logic doesn’t hold.”

“Are these crummy games selected by the ‘nerds’ at CBS who probably don’t watch football, use statistical data based on geography, surveys, etc., which might show a bias trend toward California teams rather than using a fan’s perspective to determine which game a fan would want to see?” surmises someone else.

Maybe we’ve done a poor job over the years trying to explain how this all works. Or, in this case, doesn’t work.

You’d think the ultimate benefit of not having an NFL team in Southern California – specifically L.A. – is that Fox and CBS could beam the most meaningful contests our way without having those pesky blackout restrictions that we used to have when either the Rams or Raiders didn’t sellout at home. In those cases way back when, we were left without an NFL game to watch, as if it was a punishment. But for the last decade-plus, we’ve simply received a different NFL game instead.

But then comes the San Diego Chargers, and the slippery way the created a beachhead in the L.A. market by calling us their “secondary” TV home.

Dan Masonson in the NFL’s TV department of information, has tried to make this aberration perfectly clear:

“The local affiliate in LA (KCBS in this case) must carry all Chargers ROAD games as L.A. is a secondary market for San Diego. It is for Chargers home games that the affiliate has the choice (or another game), assuming a sellout. If the team doesn’t sell out, L.A. won’t get the Chargers game because the L.A. TV signal reaches to within 75 miles of the Chargers’ home stadium.”

When the Chargers were blacked out in San Diego, they were blacked out here as well – no matter what network. But when the Chargers are on the road, KCBS’ signals are tied?

Why couldn’t the CBS affiliate fight harder to land a much more intriguing matchup – like Sunday’s Colts-Titans, where Peyton Manning is trying to get his team into the playoffs, and its’ CBS top game of the day with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on the call, instead of the Chargers-Broncos, where absolutely nothing is on the line except an appearance by Tim Tebow, with Don Criqui and Steve Beuerlein describing it?

If only to generate better ratings, which the former is sure to do over the later?

And, in a case of a situation recently, why can’t KCBS stay with a 10 a.m. game to its conclusion instead of having to switch the audience over at 1 p.m. for a Chargers’ kickoff?

“There is nothing further beyond what I wrote to explain it,” Masonson repeated in an email Thursday morning.

Fox, which will have two games involving four teams whose playoff berths can change in Tampa Bay-New Orleans and Chicago-Green Bay for its last Sunday doubleheader, might have actually wanted to bring the Rams back to the L.A. audience. But it couldn’t. NBC picked it off the Fox lineup with its flex schedule benefits, so the St. Louis-Seattle game, which will decide the NFC West, goes into prime time as the national game.

As the NFL reaps the windfall one of its most productive season or TV ratings in years, maybe it knows what it’s doing. Then again, it might consider performing concussion tests on more than just its players.

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