Thursday, May 31, 2007


"The NBA playoffs are too long?"

If your team isn't playing.

"Who cares about the NHL?"

Apparently, not you.

"No one watches the WNBA."

Because you and your buddies are completely invested in Arena Football.

"I only watch Yankees/Red Sox."

My condolences.

"Even this weekend's NASCAR rain delay got higher ratings than Spurs/Jazz."

So, did you catch up on those TiVo-ed episodes of Flavor of Love: Charm School?

"UFC is so much better than boxing!"

Nothing like seeing grown men grappling in a cage to fuel that inner Tyler Durden in you.

You would think that with the increased options in sports that people would be able to finally taste new appetizers and no longer be filled solely by the heavy meals of four major sports. You would hope that the greatest benefit of having so many sports to follow is having the ability to share different interests and find ways to pass the time until their absolute favorite games are back in season. You would believe that there is no better time to be a fan than right now when "alternative" and niche sports are launching new platforms to watch, discuss and attend the events.

Then, you woke up this morning.

You turn on the magic box and here are redundant highlights of the same people, same sports and same hype that you saw eight hours ago. You call your significant other or give him/her a good morning kiss/grunt and proceed to the shower, not having changed the channel or turned off the TV. You multitask by eating breakfast, checking your email, your fantasy baseball team, your Vegas betting lines, your second fantasy baseball team, knocking your coffee off the table and looking over your shoulder at the TV. You listen to the local sports radio station on way to work and once you arrive, here come those braggadocious co-workers comparing their golf swings. They reel you in and before you know it, you're bragging, too. Since there are no firewalls on the company's network, you go to the station's website. For the rest of the afternoon, you have watercooler talk.

Watercooler talk of the same ol' stuff.

Despite the various means to enjoy sports, there are few outlets that are invested in broadcasting games such as ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC and regional sports networks. While they all have their financial stakes in the leagues, they also surround their broadcasts with multiple talk shows, websites, podcasts and blogs in order to discuss and promote the sports. Essentially, it's fodder in order to keep the 24-hour news cycle going. The problem is that when media heads irresponsibly casts other sports as unimportant or irrelevant, they are taking those watercooler gatherings and deeming those talks as fact. They label other sports as irrelevant because they do not amass the strong ratings as Duke-UNC college basketball or the first Yankees-Red Sox series of the year or America's darling, the NFL.

It's similar to saying that 50 Cent is the best rapper based on record sales.

It's not a knock on any major sport, especially since those sports are the reason that the industry is as beloved and dissected as it is today. However, these aren't the days of one-TV homes where everyone gathers around and watches one show or one game. These aren't the days where there would be one or two people in the home who felt left out because there isn't something for them. There are as many options in sports as there are at an all-you-can-eat buffet. We can have a piece of everything on the menu or just hog the chicken. So why do people go out of their way to slam a sport that doesn't have the greater piece of the pie?

Is there even a point?

There's no steadfast rule that says you have to be a fan of X, Y and Z. Just because you don't have a particular interest in the NBA, it doesn't mean that someone else can't or shouldn't. So you don't care for thirty cars turning left for five hours. That's okay, it's not your cup of tea. Not everything in the world needs to break Nielsen records to be considered worthwhile.

A few weeks ago on ESPN Radio, Keith Olbermann said it perfectly when asked about the ratings saga of the NBA: "fans don't care if someone else is watching or not." While it would be lovely for fans to be able to enjoy the games with the fleeting casual fans, some sports don't necessarily need to reach for those people just yet, if at all. Maybe other sports such as the WNBA or UFC just aren't for you.

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