One of things at the core of this to me is a general disrespect of basketball fans. I asked Andrew for his thoughts on that.
Andrew Ebanks " I have noticed that things were getting better in terms of basketball broadcasting in Canada. But it took a step backwards when you look at Rogers Sportsnet they use to be big into basketball and now they want nothing to do with it. TSN has picked it up now. But there still seems to be that level of disrespect. They have to take basketball fans seriously. It is one of the biggest growing sports across the country. A lot of the new citizens to Canada they have not grown up on hockey. They have grown up with sports like Cricket, Soccer and in many places basketball. I think it is time that we get respect for basketball and it's fans."
Sportsnet did abandon it's coverage of NBA games. That is how Jack Armstrong went from being on Sportsnet to heading over to TSN and TSN 2. But to be fair to Sportsnet they still do cover through their highlight shows and through there website. Paul Jones writes for their website and offers a lot of great thoughts on Raptors and NBA. But I can understand how the average fan would feel that way. If you are not showing games on your network that speaks to where basketball will rank in your priority list. The number one property on Sportsnet and all Canadian sports broadcasters is the NHL and not the NBA. I have said in this blog that if this matter was about the Maple Leafs and not the Raptors it would have been solved long ago. Andrew agrees with that and had this to say about that topic.
Andrew Ebanks " For me this thing would have been solved long ago if it had involved the Maple Leafs. That is the part that really upsets me. Not everyone likes hockey. It is a great game(hockey) and is part of the fabric of this country. But don't get me wrong basketball is never going to over take hockey in Canada. My only question is why can't there be room for more then one popular sport? Raptor fans are probably some of the most crazy and passionate fans out there and they are very into the team and what is going on with it."
I agree with what Andrew is saying. I mean hey let's be honest I am trying to make a living for myself based on that. The people who are the in charge of broadcasting will point to ratings as the way to point to the choices they make. The ratings are not as large as people might hope or want. But Andrew question how those ratings are created. I will not take you back to my college years and try to explain how ratings work and if they are indeed legit measurement of audience. The truth is basketball does have a fan base. It is issues like this by those people that make the choices that is a slap in the face to basketball fans. This ongoing saga over TSN 2 is proof of that.
That is why it is important that people come out and support this effort that Andrew is putting together. It is not just about TSN2 although that is at the core of it. This is a way for Raptor fans to come together and support there fellow fans. Maybe you are lucky enough to have TSN2 and have not been impacted by this. You can still come out and support your fellow Raptor fans who can not. You can show up for Raptor fans that are through out this country and around the world. This is a way to show that basketball matters to you and it will send a message to all the people in broadcasting that you are out there and you care about basketball. Andrew has protested on his on in like 20 degree weather. However one man on his own can make a statement but not a difference. However if one man can inspire others to join him in that effort it can have a really impact. I hope for all Raptor and basketball fans it does.
This protest is planned to take place at Rogers but it is not just an attack against them. I don't think any fans really understand who is to blame. But Andrew is committed to getting this message out and plans to have protests in the future at TSN and MLSE as well until this matter is resolved. He is doing it for his fellow fans many of which can not afford to go to a game and experience Raptors basketball. These are tough times for people and that is becoming a growing list of people that can not afford to take in a game at the ACC. But there are road games that are not being broadcast as well and that impact is even greater. Andrew expressed that this is not just against Rogers but all 3 parties.
Andrew Ebanks " We figured we would start at Rogers and if this is not solved we will rotate through. The next one will be at TSN or MLSE. But we are going to hit them all up. We are not just blaming Rogers because we ultimately don't know who is at fault. We need to get this solved. The next game on TSN 2 is on January 2nd. That is a big game for fans as Toronto has a large Asian community and it is against Houston Rockets with Yao Ming. Those fans want to see that game."
I asked Andrew when it comes to this protest what did he hope to get from it beyond it's ultimate goal of getting a deal done between the parties. He said that he would welcome the chance to talk with the people that are making these choices. To express his views and find out why this has not happened. I think we all would like to know that. I am open to talking to people as well. So if someone at Rogers, MLSE or TSN wants to talk on this issue here you are welcome to get in touch with me.
That is my e-mail and I want to point out for all the other folks like me, that this is not just Rogers costumers being shut out it is others like me on Source Cable and I would imagine many other cable systems through out this country.
Andrew expressed to me that he wants people that come down to bring signs, whistles, horns and your passion for basketball and the Raptors. He also expressed that he wants this to be peaceful. I would express that as well. Be loud and passionate however do not use this as chance to be an idiot. Show the best of what being a Raptor Fan is all about. People always complain about the government but many of the folks that complain sat home on election day. Raptor Fans have complained about this issue of TSN2 and the broadcasting of the Raptors. This is a chance for you to express your feelings. If you sit back and do nothing the result will be the same. So if you can get out to this, write an e-mail, make a phone call. Do it and be part of getting this situation solved.
The Protest is planned to start at 8am Tuesday December 30th at Rogers building which is located at 333 Bloor St. East
Some Links To help out:
Email's For Compaines and CRTC
It is time to bring this mess to an end. Raptor fans are being the victims for something that they have no control over at all. It is time to band together and make your voices heard and let people know you care and demand action. We all care deeply about the Raptors and basketball so let's show it. Do what you can and if you are not able to go to a protest in Toronto write a e-mail explain to these people that you are not happy and your view of their company has changed not for the better.