Tester weighs in on no TV for MSU, UM games


by David Sherman

The decision by ESPN to not broadcast the December 3rd football games featuring the MSU Bobcats and the UM Grizzlies is outraging Montanans – and has now prompted U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to weigh in.

ESPN, which owns the rights to Football Championship Subdivision playoff games, has decided not to air the first and second-round playoff games on cable, and the network has not offered to make the telecasts available in Montana.

Although ESPN plans to stream the second-round games online on ESPN3, Tester noted in a letter to George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN/ABC Sports, that the service "is not widely available for games that hundreds of thousands of Montanans are looking forward to."

The outrage of football fans across Montana is now being channeled online, where a Facebook page has been created titled "Petition to have ESPN Have Feeds of FCS Playoff Games," and which has now garnered nearly 2,500 "attendees."

Fans can send a message to ESPN using this link or by calling 1-888-549-3776 (extension #3).

Here is the full text of Tester's letter:

Dear Mr. Bodenheimer:

I write today as a proud college football fan, and on behalf of many Montanans who are frustrated by news that they won't be able to watch the University of Montana Grizzlies or the Montana State University Bobcats play in their upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoff games.

In Montana, college football is a treasured tradition. And this year we are looking forward to seeing both powerhouse teams advance in the playoffs.

However, to this point, ESPN has apparently not offered to make the telecasts available in the state. Even a live internet stream on ESPN3 is not widely available for games that hundreds of thousands of Montanans are looking forward to.

Within hours after hearing your decision, Montanans put their friendly rivalries aside to cheer for a common goal: to encourage ESPN to reconsider. Hundreds of fans have written your network, and they are petitioning on a new Facebook page devoted to this cause. You can expect many more.

I am proud to join these Montanans in their unified plea. Please consider working with Montana broadcast stations or cable providers to make TV feeds of these FCS playoff games reasonably available to Montana fans. Airing these games in Montana will allow ESPN to be part of a time-honored pastime in the Treasure State.

Jon Tester