A Las Vegas man who identifies himself as a San Francisco 49ers fan for more than 40 years is suing the National Football League for “economic discrimination” because of the policies that were in place limiting online sales of tickets to the NFC Championship in Seattle in January to certain locales.
John E. Williams III, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), is seeking $50 million from the NFL because his hopes to see the NFC Championship were thwarted by policies limiting credit-card sales to selected markets.
“They’re always boasting up there about their 12th player and everything else,” Williams said. “But by allowing the NFL to decide who can or cannot attend the games, you make it an unfair game. Seattle fixed it.”
OK, for starters, Mr. Williams appears to be unfamiliar with how the concept of home-field advantage works. Secondly, sure, it seems unfair. But there are a lot of things in life that are unfair; that doesn’t make them illegal.
Williams’ suit claims: “The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraid Act and/or common law.”
But here’s the thing: Businesses are not compelled to sell anything to anyone they don’t want to sell to. If I go to a bagel shop and they don’t want to sell me a bagel because I don’t live in town, it’s their choice—it would be a stupid choice, but it would be theirs to make, and it wouldn’t be discriminatory so long as that decision to not sell bagels to anyone who doesn’t live in their town was enforced equally.
I respect that Mr. Williams really, really had his heart set on attending the game. But the fact the Seattle Seahawks didn’t want to sell him a ticket by credit card because he doesn’t live in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia or Alberta isn’t illegal.
Hopefully this case won’t tie up too much time in the courts.