The hockey season starts with some usual suspects every year. The overpriced preseason, hockey pools, bets on how long it takes Eric Lindros to get hurt, and the “story” about how hockey is so small and underachieving in America.
With a new season set to open next week, the National Hockey League is facing a new challenge to avoid hockey being dismissed as a minor sport in many major American markets.
U.S. TV ratings for the NHL hit an all-time low last season and newspapers in the league’s two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, have either decided against sending reporters on the road with their home teams or are considering doing so.
Let’s get this straight. First off, the second paragraph is old news, which has been reported on at length in the blogs around the web. Like Sharkspage, for starters. OK, that could be considered news.
But come on. How much do Canadian newspapers need to tell Canadian readers that the sport is less popular in the states than Canada? What does this do for Canadians? Does this grow the sport? Tell them something they didn’t know? Sell newspapers? Ah, there you go. What was The Hockey News leading with during the Stanley Cup Finals? That the finals were on TV, and nobody was watching (What was that I was tuning in to? Fear Factor NHL Edition?). One word for it: hack.
Tell me you haven’t heard it all before. Tell me you haven’t heard about how nobody cares about hockey, while you are wearing your favorite jersey. Tell me this ‘reporting’ does anything for you. Some guy bangs out a hack article about the NHL in America, and pats himself on the back. We, the people who read about hockey, KNOW THIS ALREADY. Hockey fans know the size of the game in the States. And WE, not you at the Toronto Star, are doing something about it. We are writing about hockey, not hacking out sorry articles slanted to make the Canadians in the house feel better about themselves, or even just the us against the world mentality. It’s HACK. It’s been done before, to death, and much better. I didn’t think I would do this, but Chad Zelkovich, you’re on notice:
Want to write something worth reading, Chris? Here’s a challenge. Go find some hockey fans in America. Not just the easy hockey America, Original Fix America, go find some in the fun and surprising parts of America. Go read All Roads Lead to Hockey, by William T. Boyd, especially the chapter set in a border town of Texas. Do some leg work, and tell me something different. When one NASCAR event can bring out 100,000 people (on a slow day), and hockey lags behind dramatically, you could bang out an article without any research at all. Why don’t you go find some real fans in America, instead of pointing to the numbers. Find the people who can’t afford to go the the rink all the time, or the people who ride the bus to the out of town games, to cheer on their minor league team. Go talk to the people you consider hockey dumb, or even non-existent. Find out where they go after the game in Atlanta, or what the tailgaters who took the Carolina Hurricanes into their hearts before the Cup win are like.
Hey, I’ll tell you what. Don’t bother, Chris. I’ll do it for you. That’s the gauntlet.