Hockey, Toronto in the second round. The game
Hockey, The Rodney Dangerfield Of SportsIn the US, there are four major sports; football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Out of the four, hockey gets the least amount of respect.
This is something that bothers me as hockey player and fan, and it also bothers other hockey fans around the country. They way that hockey is covered in the newspapers, on television, and not just professional hockey. It goes the same for college hockey and also high school hockey.
Lets start at the top with the NHL. The NHL has a TV deal with ESPN and ABC so that the two companies share the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL’s championship series.
(It should also be noted that ABC owns ESPN). The problem with TV deal is that ESPN is a paid for cable station, which means that you can only watch the finals games on ESPN if you have cable. Because of this, hockey doesn’t get as much exposure as other sports do too a new audience. The World Series is on FOX or NBC, the NBA Finals are on NBC, and the Super Bowl is on FOX, CBS, or ABC. All of those stations are free to a viewer with a television. There is no monthly charge for service of those stations unlike ESPN. This is where hockey gets shafted, the NHL is the only sport that has its championship game or series on cable TV where only a specific audience as access to it as opposed to the entire nation.
But it is not just the Cup Finals that are on cable television. The first three rounds are also on ESPN. Here is an example of how this is another problem.
It was about a week ago when the Devils were playing Toronto in the second round. The game was on ESPN for people to watch in all parts of the country except the Tri-State area. Here, we are expected to watch the game on the Devils local station, which happens to be FOX Sports Net NY. The only problem with this is that my cable deal doesn’t give me FOX Sports Net NY, therefore I was unable to watch a very entertaining game. Even the other three sports have their first round games on network television. But some people who even have cable, can’t watch a first round game of hockey in the playoffs. Also, the way that the NHL is covered in the newspapers and on TV is different to that of other sports.
When you read the newspaper the only time that you will see a hockey game make the front page of the sports section is in the local paper when the local team is winning. If they are not winning or not in the playoffs, you will not read much about hockey. And the same thing goes for the newscasts’. When they do the sports, the only time that they will talk about hockey first is if the local team had a big win or is in the playoffs.These problems aren’t just in the NHL and professional. It also goes down to college hockey.
If you live in this area, the only time you will be able to watch c college hockey game is during the Final Four. Which, ironically, is also broadcasted on ESPN only and accessible to a select few. But these are the only games during the entire year that are televised. That means that unless you live in the Mid-West or further in the North-East, you will only be able to watch three college hockey games a year! Its bad enough that the games are on only ESPN, but too only televise three games a year, that’s just terrible. College basketball is on every weekend on CBS and during the tourney all you hear about is college basketball. College football is also on network TV and also has about fifteen games televised weekly.
And the final games of the college baseball World Series are on CBS, network TV. This problem also stems down to even high school hockey. My team this year is an example.
This year, our team finished above .500 for the first time in the team’s three-year history. We were winning games and battling for the league title. The biggest story that we got in our local papers the entire season were two, maybe three paragraphs. Although it’s a growing sport, its not growing fast enough. Football, basketball, wrestling, baseball, and lacrosse still get more headliners and more publicity than hockey. Even during hockey season, when there are only five other sports taking, hockey gets shafted behind basketball and wrestling.
Hockey also gets shafted as far as support from the school district. For our school to get a hockey team, the parents of the players had to offer to pay for the entire cost of the team which is up around $25,000. The school board felt that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to fund a team at the moment, so they agreed to supply the team with a certain amount of money for the next five years until the school took over everything. (This is the only sport that is paid for partially by the parents). What we have just discovered is that the hockey team will not be receiving more money next year than it received this year. And after the fives years are up the school may not even have a team that is funded by the school board. Talk about being shafted.
And I can guarantee that this will never happen to a sport like basketball, which in our school is terrible and only had two wins last season.This can be summed up in a couple of ways. Ice hockey clearly gets shafted and pushed aside when it comes to deciding between hockey and another sport.
Whether its in the NHL and there playoff game that are cable TV, or the same thing in college hockey with the final four, or even in high school hockey where it doesn’t get as much coverage in the papers or support from the school board. The level at which hockey gets shafted doesn’t seem to matter, hockey continues to get pushed aside when compared to the other three majors sports. And this must change!