Ute fans finally get to watch games through DirecTV

By By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

A new era is upon you, Ute fans.

Yeah, Utah’s defense is going to be great, and the offense will probably average 400-some-odd yards per game8212;but the new dawn is that you’ll probably get the chance to see it happen before your very eyes again, finally.

Thanks to the good people at The Mtn. and DirecTV, what was once free and taken for granted is now available to you at the low, low price of about $60 for a basic subscription. Forgive me if I sound sarcastic or snarky, I guess that’s what I’ve grown accustomed to whenever I mention The Mtn. It’s like trying to knock the southern twang out of a Texan.

Truth be told, I applaud DirecTV and The Mtn. for making this deal happen. The deal is good for everyone involved. The Mtn. offers something that nobody has dared offer before8212;way more coverage of your favorite MWC team than you’ll find anywhere else. You’ll find inside looks into your teams and hear some of the opinions of media personnel that should know more about your favorite team8212;save your local beat writer8212;than anyone in the country.

DirecTV will soon have the overwhelming monopoly on satellite distribution in the Southwest, thanks to its decision. I heard this from a credible source within the U Athletics Department, who wanted to remain anonymous, that Dish Network has no intention of ever adding The Mtn. to its services. In five years you’ll probably hear people say, “Dish Network who?”

The two groups that benefit the most from this deal are the two people that matter the most: the school’s athletic departments and the fans.

Your days of getting the score updates via text message from a friends and watching the 10 o’clock news for highlights are over. The way even broadcast television is switching over to a digital feed makes it almost a sin to not have cable or a dish hookup in your home come February 2009. You get to follow your team on a more consistent basis. You get involved with the team, and when BYU, Utah or any other school starts rolling, fans who have been watching football from the comfort of their own home start thinking, “Hey, that looks like it would be pretty fun to go see in person.”

At the U, I’m predicting an increase in ticket sales in every televised sport over the next few years. That is on top of the already highest demand for season tickets the U football team has ever seen before the start of the regular season. And that’s with Crimson Club fees being higher than ever.

I have parents, uncles, cousins and grandparents who spend the first hour of every major family gathering complaining about not being able to see Utah play. I’ve seen people I love grow more and more indifferent to an athletics program that has been in the family for four generations. No longer will the names Koa Misi and Robert Johnson go unrecognized at my family’s dinner table. No longer will someone have to clarify if Tyler Kepkay is a Runnin’ Ute point guard or a member of the U football team’s special teams.

It’s not that my family doesn’t have and want season tickets, but how hard is it to follow a team closely when you are guaranteed to see no more than half its games in a season?

I know I wasn’t alone in this family debacle either. True Utah fans will even have a chance to see the soccer team, or the volleyball team, or the baseball and softball teams play once in a while. They will see student journalists talk about what’s going on up on the hill and they’ll get in-depth looks at the players that make up their favorite teams like never before.

The Mtn. has always been a good concept on paper, but until now, didn’t make much sense to the average MWC fan. This weekend, many fans will tune into The Mtn. for the first time. I’m betting if they give it a chance through football season, they’ll see the fruits of the long fast from their favorite college’s athletics.

For my family, Utah football is back inside our living rooms, where it ought to have been all along. I just hope we don’t take it for granted this time.

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Tony Pizza