Friday, December 08, 2006
Shawn P. Roarke: Missing the Point
You would expect Roarke, a employee/shill of the NHL to dodge the real point and paint his league in the best picture, but it's amazing that he wrote a very length article about the league's stars and preface it with such negativity.
One of the most espoused theories? Hands up if "Lack of Superstars" is anywhere near the top of your list?
For years, I have heard hockey critics, and even some casual fans, offer their takes on why our game does not enjoy the popularity of other major professional sports.
Among the most often espoused theories is that the NHL only has a few superstars that transcend the sport itself and bleed over into the mainstream sports consciousness. The resulting anonymity of its remaining player personnel base dooms the NHL to second-tier status among the American sporting public fixated on stars.
Look at baseball, these critics say. There, stars like Roger Clemens, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, the New York Yankees' entire lineup and Barry Bonds rule the day and carry the sport to its continued place as America’s pastime.
Yet, the NHL has only a handful of stars to capture the fancy of the porting public, say the critics. Sure, guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr are bold-faced names that can interest even the casual fan, the critics allow. But, after that, there is nothing to sustain the casual interest, they contend.
Well, those critics are dead wrong I say. The non-superstar argument is shortsighted, lazy and factually incorrect. The NHL, in their opinion, may not have the headline-grabbing personalities of other sports – athletes that earn as many headlines for their brash words and off-field missteps as they do for their athletic brilliance – but the NHL player can hold its own with any other sport when it comes providing performances worthy of a customers hard-earned money and valuable time and emotional involvement.
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Instead of bringing up the REAL issues facing the league, Roarke tries to take a softball argument against the NHL's lack of popularity and beat it to death. It's like saying the War in Iraq has been a success because Saddam Hussein is out of power. Yes, it's true, but it doesn't mask the fact that there are 1,000 other, bigger, problems.
How about pointing out those REAL issues that have held back the NHL from generating popularity masking the NFL/MLB/NBA/NASCAR the next time you decide to talk down to us unwashed masses?
(On a separate note, who cares if the NHL is as popular as the boring sports?)
1. Marketing - The league has many great stars, but has always done a poor job marking those stars. Last year's generic gladiator ads highlighted this point. Britney Spears-type muzak succeeds with great marketing, despite the lack of any real talent.
2. Cultural - Let's face it, most fans can't take to ice hockey because they've never played it and it hasn't been part of their culture. Not many southern US cities have a whole lot of hockey rinks and young kids don't grow up playing ice hockey or road hockey like they do here in Canada.
3. Lowering the level of violence - Less fighting has had a definite effect on NHL's popularity as shown elsewhere. Americans love violence, and the NHL is retreating from that. Why?
4. Ticket prices - The NHL is much more expensive than the average MLB, NBA, and NASCAR ticket. You can go to the other sports and get cheap tickets. It's very hard to get a cheap ticket to many NHL rinks. You see how the Blues made a stupid move to increase prices despite a crappy team and it bombed on them.
Etc etc etc... suffice it to say, Roarke wasted a lot of time by highlighting an issue that really isn't a factor in league popularity. Thanks, NHL.com, but we don't need your propaganda shoved up our ass like this. We're not quite that stupid.
PS: Duvie Westcott? Yeah, he's a real marketable superstar.
Sorry about Balastik, he was quite fun to watch on the PP and shootout. I thought in the limited action he saw in the last two weeks that he actually played quite hard. He showed considerable effort that I've not always seen from him in Columbus. I wish him the best wherever he lands.