Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is ESPN Killing the NHL?

The Sports Law Blog explains.
Since the NHL made the questionable decision to abandon the cable network as its broadcast partner in favor of the fledgling Versus network, many have argued that NHL coverage on the Worldwide Leader in Sports has ranged from underwhelming to disrespectful. Even ESPN’s ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, felt compelled to examine hockey coverage on the network. In an article last month, she confirmed that hockey coverage has indeed diminished 28% on Sportscenter over the last three years and that hockey-oriented shows such as NHL 2Night were cut altogether since ESPN’s loss of NHL rights.

The reduced exposure on ESPN can only be harmful to the NHL. By minimizing coverage and highlights, the network is effectively reducing the imprint of the game on Americans’ collective sports consciousness. Worse still, several ESPN writers and commentators have gone out of their way to emphasize the demise of hockey. Le Ann Schreiber recently noted that during the NHL’s regular season, hockey was only mentioned on-air if there happened to be “some egregious brawl” or if it was being “dissed” for its invisibility and irrelevance. . . .

Off Wing Opinion offers a in depth analysis of the situation.
At the end of the day, what we're talking about above are simply the techniques that ESPN is using to attack the NHL and run it down in the eyes of the American sports fan. Why do that? Because every fan that can be convinced that Versus is too hard to find, or that hockey is the sport of the past -- despite the fact that more Americans are playing the sport today than ever before -- means more sports fans who can be force fed whatever ESPN might be fronting at the time -- be it MLS, Poker, or even the WNBA.

Here's an idea -- why not treat ESPN personalities like Mike Greenburg who run down the sport the same way we ought to treat anybody who has too much power?

Fight the power. Question authority. Think for yourself. Watch hockey.

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