Archive for NHL

TGIF

Posted in 1, Golf, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Remember the good old days when Friday meant more than just the end of school or work? It meant something far superior than that. It meant something that surpassed paychecks and not having to worry about homework. It meant something that had far more of an impact than a couple of days off from the daily grind. What did it mean, you ask? It’s simple.

Friday meant 2 hours of Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers and Step by Step. Now all we’re left with is some lousy made for TV movie. However, this actually has nothing to do whatsoever with my topic for today. It was just something I had to get off my chest.

So what I’d like to talk about today is a thoughtful yet ultimately unanswerable question. Those are the best, aren’t they?

If you’ve read my bio, you know I don’t exactly have the most prolific athletic history. When your most vivid memory of playing sports is remembering when you fell on your butt into a puddle of mud on the infield and then couldn’t sit in the car on the way home because of it, then it’s safe to say that your primary role in sports is that of a fan. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of because fans are important.

So with that in mind, which sport is the greatest fan sport? Meaning, which one offers the most to it’s fans in exchange for their rabid enthusiasm and a percentage of their paycheck? And since it’s Friday and no one wants to work anyways, I’m asking you guys to chime in big time and let me know what your thoughts on the issue.

But to get things started, I’ve created a list of pros and cons for each sport.

Baseball

Pros – 162 games over 6 months (not including the playoffs, which means you can watch your team play almost every night during the season. In the Braves case, between March 30 and September 28, there will only be 18 days where they won’t be playing a game.

Thanks to foul balls, home runs, and generous outfielders, it allows you the greatest chance to walk away from the game with a souvenir.

Cons – the potential of being put in a coma through A) a viscious line drive or B) the pitcher who just can’t seem to throw a strike anymore.

Having to constantly watch the players adjust their jock straps.

Football

Pros – The 16 game schedule allows for greater intensity because each game carries a lot more weight.

It’s always funny when an opposing players lifts his face out of the dirt and has grass stuck in his helmet.

Cons It gets a little tiresome to hear John Madden say things like, “Well the quarterback mongoose chaw kumquat gizzard oompa loompa….TOUCHDOWN!”

During the Super Bowl halftime show, you’re forced to either watch either some aging rocker who miraculously lived to age 60 or the latest teenaged sibling of another pop star. Would it be too much to ask for an act that’s somewhere in between?

Hockey

Pros – You get to hear the commentators say things like “That is what this game is all aboot.”

It proves that you don’t have to have your real teeth to be successful

Cons It’s easier to figure out the square root of 2928372934579827 than it is to learn how to pronounce half of the players’ names.

You don’t get to drive the Zamboni

Basketball

Pros Smaller arenas make it a lot easier for fans to be closer to the action. And the proximity of courtside seats enables Jack Nicholson to wear sunglasses inside and still see what’s going on.

It made Converse All Stars very famous in the 1950s.

Cons – You celebrate 3 of your own birthdays and your neighbor’s son’s bar mitzvah in the same amount of time it takes the teams to play the final 2 minutes.

Golf

Pros – You get to practice your polite clap, which incidentally also comes in handy at weddings, graduations, and when your friend asks you to come watch their interpretive dance routine.

You get to unload unwanted cameras by intentionally taking a picture during Tiger Woods’ backswing

Cons – With the price of oil, a golf cart is looking more and more like the only car you can afford.

Tennis

Pros – By the time you’re done watching a match, your neck can bench press 200 pounds.

Let’s face it, you never get tired of watching the ball boy frantically run from one end of the net to the other.

Cons – The women’s grunting scares you a little

You realize that the frumpy looking net judge has entirely too much power for someone sitting in a high-chair.

Curling

Pros – Makes death seem like not such a bad thing after all

Cons – Explains why the prices of brooms and kettles have more than tripled at your local Wal-Mart since the last winter Olympics.

So there you go, just a few things to consider as we discuss which sport is the best one for spectators. I look forward to everyone’s contributions! And long live Balki Bartokamous.

 

The Best Sport No One Watches

Posted in 1, NHL with tags , , , on June 4, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals have averaged 2.4 million viewers.  While those numbers aren’t bad considering the games were aired on the Versus network, the very fact that they are on that channel to begin with speaks volumes.  The NBA, NFL and MLB championships all get airtime on one of the major networks. 

 

To put it in perspective, this year’s Super Bowl was watched by nearly 100 million people.  Granted, those numbers significantly dwarf even the NBA and MLB totals, but it helps give an indication of just how low the NHL sits on the totem pole in terms of viewership.

 

It’s a highly skilled sport, and its storied history still inspires.  So why is it struggling to win fans?

 

ESPN’s Colin Cowherd addressed this subject on his show on Monday, and he came up with two interesting observations.  First, there’s the culture issue.

 

Apart from the northern border states, and a few in the northeast, hockey just doesn’t have the pull that the other states do.  For example, it’s commonly said here in Atlanta that Georgia fans only time to follow two sports and Georgia football is always going to be one of them.  So that leaves the Braves, Hawks, Thrashers, and Georgia Tech to battle it out for the last spot.  I think that’s true in a lot of places.

 

Most American cities simple don’t feel the same passion about the NHL that you’ll find in Canada.  Even in Boston, where the Bruins are one of the Original Six in the NHL, the team is struggling to bring in the fans. They were last in attendance this year. 

 

The other issue Cowherd pointed out is that hockey simply doesn’t translate on TV.  It’s without a doubt one of the most exciting sports to watch in person.  But the excitement and energy just don’t seem to come through on TV. And everything happens in such a quick pace that the strategy and nuances of the game can be easily lost when you’re not watching in person. 

 

So is there any way to help pull hockey out of the ratings basement? Analysts are expecting the standardization of HD broadcasting to give the league a boost. I think there’s a lot of truth to that, as the higher definition will allow the viewer to keep up with the quick pace more easily.  But I think it’s going to take more.

 

As cliché as this may sound, I think the NHL is going to have to make a concerted effort to reach out to the youth in the country.  Most of the attention goes to the other three big sports, and it’s rare that you find a school that has a hockey team (at least in a majority of the country).  Unless a parent has raised their child with a love for hockey and encouraged them to play for a local youth league, then more often than not the child’s attention will eventually be drawn to the other sports.  Not to mention the fact that the NHL can’t offer the money or longevity that some of the other sports can offer. 

What can the league do? They can learn from the other leagues.  The NBA has “I love this game,” and the MLB has “I live for this.”  The NHL needs to instill that kind of passion in the younger generations to overcome the obstacles they’re facing.  If they can do that, that will be at least one step towards reminding viewers what a tremendous sport it is.