Is it really 2011 all over again it seemed like it at the conclusion of last night’s NBA All-Star Game. Once again TSN cut bait and ran straight into Sportscentre without letting Canada in on who won the MVP. Could you imagine how furious people would have been if say DeMar DeRozan was in the running? He wasn’t but had an admirable first appearance in the game. That is a story for another day.
As loyal readers of the DNB might recall that event in 2011 was the genesis of a hashtag that trended on Twitter. (#TSNHatesBBALL) I am its creator and it was given a re-birth last night although I don’t think or know if it trended anywhere nor do I care. It did trend in Toronto on that night in 2011 though. TSN never responded to it in any way which makes sense, why would you, to such an irrational statement.
Did I literally mean that they hated basketball? Not really, I mean I have had Jack Armstrong who works there in this blog more than anyone. Last year I did a podcast with Josh Lewenberg who has moved on to bigger and better things and is covering the team now home and away. Josh was even at the All Star Weekend. I am happy and proud for him to have had such success. My feelings on Jack are well documented and he will be in the blog tomorrow talking about a variety of topics on the Raptors.
Here is the thing it is not the people at TSN that care about basketball that are the problem. In fact the people they have for basketball are pretty damn good with some exceptions. I think we all know who I think those are and I really don’t’ want this piece to be about that because it really isn’t the issue here.
TSN has if you haven’t noticed added a lot of basketball content. Most of it is shoved over to the secondary network TSN2 and this is where we start to see the issue.
See what TSN doesn’t want to accept or acknowledge is the way they are perceived by the basketball fan base in this country. Basketball fans feel that the network has treated them and the sport they love like a second class citizen. Which it is hard to make the argument they haven’t. All-Star Saturday Night as much as it was a disaster is a marquee event in the NBA. Was this on main TSN it would have to be right there was no hockey to stand in the way with Olympics going on in Russia? However no it was programmed to be on TSN2 and on the main network was NASCAR. I am not going to bash fans of motor sports here but when you compare the two events one is more significant than the other.
Normally TSN would bury their heads in the sand to all of this stuff but they can’t afford to do that anymore. If you somehow missed the news(which with it being about hockey is next to impossible in this country) the NHL is leaving TSN. They will only have a selection of regional games and as such their programming schedule is filled with holes going forward.
So now the network that has made you feel that your sport was second class suddenly wants to embrace it. They already have started too with coverage of Kansas games and Andrew Wiggins. That hasn’t worked out as they likely thought with the Raptors success and the lack of a connection between them and Wiggins potentially in the draft.
There is no doubt that you will see more basketball on TSN than you ever have before. Not just NBA but likely more college hoops and who knows maybe even the Canadian Pro League fines some time on there the NBL.
What they have failed to realize or care about is how they have treated all of you and how you feel about them as a result. I have no doubt some of you legitimately feel they hate basketball. They don’t they just love hockey more as does Rogers as does a great many people in this country.
If the big bad wolf swears to you he isn’t going eat you are you going to believe him? TSN has shown more respect to fans of the CFL than they have of the NBA. I love the CFL but I am not going to sit here and tell you that basketball in the NBA is not a bigger deal than the CFL. It is and it should be especially with so many young Canadians on their way to being part of the NBA.
Make no mistake that is part of all this too. The last thing I am going to do is tell you that the people at Bell or Rogers are stupid people. What I will tell you is they are people that have not seen the bigger picture of sports outside of the NHL with few exceptions. That is the biggest ratings draw and no one will dispute that. Still our friends in the United States find a way to balance sports coverage and not offend people who are fans of any particular sport. Wait a second the Americans are more inclusive than Canadians? This goes against all logic when you look at the two nations in any other context. But in terms of sports it is so true and so evident. Hockey over everything and if you don’t like it they don’t care because their ratings tell them not to care.
I am not going to shed a tear for the backlash TSN got for botching the All-Star Game yet again which by the way they have responded and said was an honest mistake this time. Which we are told too just be accepting and move on. Well if we hadn’t been made to feel like the ugly redheaded step child of sports fans for years maybe they would have a point. The fact is that is how we have been treated and that is now their problem to solve.
There is no question that when the All-Star Game comes to Toronto you will see a display the likes you have never seen from TSN. It will all be so very hypocritical in nature. The fact is TSN is not getting the NHL back in a major way for a long time and it is their job now to try and fix a very broken and bitter relationship with basketball fans. Maybe they can do it, and maybe they can’t, but they ultimately are forced to try.
The truth is though at every little mistake they make people are going to be suspicious and not trust them. They have so richly earned that mistrust and deserve it.
In the end the progress is happening and it is miles from what it was in the past. The amount of basketball we get to see in this country has increased by leaps and bounds. We just might not be the fans of who is providing it. The Score had the trust and belief that they cared about basketball. They didn’t have a lot else and ultimately with the creation of TSN2 and Sportnet One along with the purchase of MLSE they were dead as a T.V Station. The only thing they had is another ugly red headed step child called the WWE that TSN and Rogers wanted no part of. That was not enough to sustain a network. This is a lesson that even the WWE is learning with having to move their soon to be launching network to the internet.
I am not saying you have to like TSN or thank them for it. I feel they need to earn your trust and faith. Keep in mind though when that NHL Contract runs out in 12 years they will drop you like a bad habit if they can get that back.
As I tried to explain to someone on Twitter this is not something that will be fixed overnight or anytime soon. It will take a generation for people that have a different outlook on covering sports to be in power making the decisions. The people now are convinced that Hockey is the golden goose that will never die. So screw all the fans of anything else unless we actually have to be nice to them.
It’s play nice time for TSN because the Golden Goose has left the nest.