Rattlers get no love from 'worldwide leader'
When I heard the Arena Football League had again partnered with ESPN for national television broadcasts this season, I naturally thought the two-time defending ArenaBowl champion Arizona Rattlers might get some airtime.
Then the broadcast scheduled was released. There are nine games being shown on ESPN2 and ESPNEWS – 18 slots for teams to fill.
Perusing the ESPN lineup, there's the Philadelphia Soul and Spokane Shock three times each. The Los Angeles KISS, New Orleans VooDoo and Tampa Bay Storm twice each. A handful of other squads getting one appearance apiece.
And the league's two remaining unbeatens, the Rattlers and Cleveland Gladiators, nowhere to be found on the ESPN schedule. The Orlando Predators were also left out of the mix.
It just makes sense that ESPN would want the AFL's best teams on the air. Right? I'm not so sure.
Can we implement the flex option that the NFL uses for late-season broadcasts?
It must be noted, however, that ESPN3 offers access to nearly every game. That is, when the service is working. And not all fans have access to ESPN3.
Several Rattlers fans were left scrambling when “technical difficulties” caused the April 12 matchup with the San Jose SaberCats to be removed from the ESPN3 schedule. Luckily, a fan found a link to the in-house feed and the game was viewable online.
Interestingly, CBS Sports Network did the opposite of ESPN, electing to broadcast five of the Rattlers' 18 regular-season contests. But the CBS network's reach certainly does not compare to that of ESPN.
The Rattlers' local television affiliate, Cox 7 Arizona, does a tremendous job broadcasting Arizona home games that are not on the national TV docket. Cox 7 also picks up the feed of selected away games, such as the May 11 game at the Portland Thunder.
And being able to use the Cox 7 website and app as a displaced fan is invaluable.
But it still would be nice to see the Rattlers in at least one of ESPN's “game of the week” showcases.
Can the 9-0 Rattlers become the first AFL squad to finish a regular season undefeated? That remains to be seen.
But if you want to see Arizona on ESPN, you're going to have to wait for the postseason.