Thursday, July 12, 2007

You Wanna Get Nuts... Let's Get Nuts!

July is widely regarded as the worst sports month of the year - and yikes, for good reason, there is just nothing happening right now. This week has been especially bad because baseball has even been off - and when you're upset because baseball is taking a break, you know you've officially hit rock bottom. If it wasn't for the CFL, Sports As Life might be on a month-long hiatus.

But since everyone in the newsroom (me) is a little punchy today after staying out too late last night at the new Harry Potter movie (he stole my shoes), I've decided to take some shots at other people in the world of sport. Not cheap shots mind you, I'd just like to talk a little common sense today.

If you've been paying attention to the local sports media (you know who I'm talking about) this week, and come'on how could you not, you'd know that there has been much hand-wringing about last Sunday's game not being a sell out. The accusation seems to be that the people of Saskatchewan are too lazy/cheap/dumb (ok, that last one might be a bit of a stretch) to get out to a football game and support the Roughriders. Ok, now let me break this down for you in simple chapter and verse - instead of blaming the fans (25,000 of whom still showed up, by the way) why don't we shift it to who should be taking the blame, the TV broadcasters and the team itself. Games on Sunday's now start at 5pm local time, instead of 1pm or 3pm, which used to be the standards. You can thank TSN and the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club for that decision.

The real problem with this is that much of the ticket buying public that attend Roughrider games comes from outside the Regina area, this much has long been known and is not disputed - it's Saskatchewan Roughriders. By no longer starting games in the early afternoons people who live in, oh I don't know, say Saskatoon, are less likely to drive down to Regina for a football game. And here's why - with a 5pm kickoff that means the game won't be over until 8 or 8:30, which means you aren't in your car and on the way out of town until 9 at the absolute earliest. Then, if you're going to Saskatoon, you're not home until between 11 and 11:30pm at the absolute earliest. Those are tough hours to deal with on a Sunday night with a work week looming, especially if you're taking the family to the game. And let's be honest there are people that drive from a lot farther away than Saskatoon to come to a Rider game - and if you're not going to get home until midnight or later, I'm pretty sure you'd think twice about driving down to Regina for a game.

So before we're so quick to jump all over the people who didn't attend the game, perhaps a look at why they didn't attend the game was in order - the late start time is a huge reason.... ticket prices have gone up again this year and some people who have attended in the past might now have been priced out.... if you look out your window you'll see that gas prices are around $1.20 a litre - for someone that has to drive a couple hours (or even less) to get to Regina, this could potentially be a huge factor in whether they go to the game or not.

Wow, my sociology minor is finally paying off.

And since we're on the subject of attendance, there is already hand-wringing and complaint about this Friday's game against the B.C Lions possibly not being a sell-out, both from your official Roughrider Blogger (seriously go read him - buy the ticket, take the ride) and your local sports media. First of all, have I been asleep for a thousand years? When did sold out football games become the norm in this province? For as long as I can remember, one or two sold-out games a year is pretty much standard, Labour Day being the one guarantee. Why is a game with 90 or 95% capacity suddenly unacceptable? I think because of the sold-out preseason game - where there were literally thousands of free tickets given away - expectations have been set just a little high, don't you think? Perhaps nearly 2 decades of mediocrity have turned people off from the team as well- although Robin Williams still has a film career, so maybe that logic doesn't hold.

Anyway, back to the subject of Friday's game. Obviously I'm no expert, as I don't get paid to do this, but I would suggest to you that Friday's game might not sell-out because of the INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL that's taking place just out side of the city. If you're a country music fan or a fan of alcohol - and remember what province we're in - do you attend the once a year, colossal country music party, or do you go to the Roughrider home game, of which there are 9 per year, albeit this is a first-place showdown against B.C. I will leave you to come up with your own answer to that question - but just think logically about it for a second.

I would love to see some common sense, some rational thought and logic employed by the sports media in this province - instead of knee-jerk reactions and heavy-handed opinions given down from on high. I suppose that is the nature of sports reporting in general (I can be as guilty of that as anyone) and isn't necessarily specific to Saskatchewan. But just because that's how it is everywhere else doesn't mean we can't strive to be a little bit better than that sometimes.

We're better than that aren't we.

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