Football fans will find plenty to watch on AFN
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 29, 2008
His Seoul American High School’s colors are Navy blue and white, but few can be found to be as dyed-in-the-wool red and white as teacher Steve Boyd.
The 55-year-old native of Waynesboro, Ga., is a 1975 graduate of the University of Georgia, a school ranked for the first time a consensus preseason No. 1 entering the college football season.
Having watched eight of Georgia’s 11 regular-season games last year, Boyd says he knows he doesn’t have to worry about starving for Bulldog games on American Forces Network broadcasts.
"AFN does a fabulous job of showing a variety of conferences and teams. You get the games," said Boyd.
Boyd is in his 16th year of teaching overseas for Department of Defense Dependents Schools. During that span, AFN has expanded from one satellite network channel and an entertainment signal to eight TV signals, three of which carry college and pro games on weekends.
Generally, AFN doesn’t get its choice of games but instead airs those that the rights-holding networks offer, partly because AFRTS does not pay the commercial rate for sports telecasts.
But, said Kyle Rhodus, athletic director at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan: "We get more games on bases overseas than anybody in the States gets."
A South Florida fan, Rhodus says he would like to see more of his beloved Bulls on TV, "but you’ll see the bigger teams, like Notre Dame and USC.
"I understand that," he said, adding he is "satisfied" with AFN’s offerings.
AFN officials at American Forces Radio & Television Service headquarters at Moreno Valley, Calif., say football fans can expect a selection of televised games similar to what they’ve had the past few years.
College fans can expect to see between four and nine live games per weekend, as well as between two and five tape-delayed, said Corey B. Slutsky, AFN’s sports programming director.
NFL fans can expect four to six live games from FOX and CBS early Monday morning, plus NBC’s and ESPN’s prime time games at mid-morning Monday and Tuesday, Slutsky said.
The Sunday and Monday Night games will be shown via tape delay as many as two times, and the NFL Network’s NFL RePLAY will air on Wednesdays and Thursdays on AFN- Sports, Slutsky said.
Games may be scaled back during the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Major League Baseball’s playoffs and the NASCAR Sprint Cup "Chase for the championship."
Slutsky said AFN’s industry liaison Tom Weber is working to secure rights to all college bowl games and the NFL playoffs, culminating with Super Bowl XLIII.
The big challenge for overseas viewers is the time difference; depending on the time of year, Japan and Korea are 13 or 14 hours ahead of the East Coast.
But that has the effect of turning Saturday afternoons into "quality Sunday mornings," Boyd said.
"Set the alarm, turn on the TV and I have an array of three to four games at the same time, and three to four more later on," he said.
To deal with the time difference Boyd said you can either set the VCR and avoid networks that will announce final scores, or "if it’s your alma mater, like mine, you plan 24 hours ahead. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand. Pace yourself. Have a good working coffee pot and a loud alarm clock. I have both."