Sports media misses the point

on May 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

It was just an observation. A statement actually, made a few days ago regarding the true state of sports media in this city by John Molinaro, chief soccer reporter for Sportsnet. It wasn’t done to toot his own horn nor intended to mock other journalists. It was simply a fact and a comment.


As he felt he had to explain later, this also wasn’t a “Rodney Dangerfield” claim of no respect for the sport of soccer. It is already understood that there are those that do not like soccer and are fully entrenched in those beliefs. This isn’t an attempt to convert you to the dark side. If you don’t like soccer (or football as some of the snooty people call it), that’s fine, no worries. There are already so many people in this city that love Toronto FC so why isn’t mainstream media catering to them? That is the point, I believe, that Molinaro is trying to make.

There are a large number of fans in this city that already loved soccer. Many follow the leagues from the countries that they once came from whether it be the Premier League, Serie A or Brasileiro. Over the past decade, however, the local interest in MLS and Toronto FC in particular has grown significantly and it will continue to grow for two simple factors. 1) More kids are playing soccer rather than hockey and 2) most people emigrating to Canada prefer soccer over any other sport. It is no coincidence that TFC average more attendance per game than either the Maple Leafs or Raptors and quite often, it is also a much better atmosphere. If you think Jurassic Park is special, and it is, imagine that at BMO field during every single game.

These are passionate fans and they are waiting for main stream media to pick up on it. One of the most important soccer games in the world is happening this weekend and I haven’t heard a peep about the Champions League game between Real Madrid and Juventus on the radio. I’m sure it’s there, but not during the morning or afternoon drive which hits the largest audiences. Instead today’s discussion was hockey talk (again) on Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan’s response about “maybe” trading Alexander Ovechkin “if” the right deal came around. Both TSN1050 and Sportsnet590 spent most of my drive home talking about his statement that is LITERALLY the same response that every GM of every sport always says when asked about trading one of their players.

As much as the media would like you to believe they’re decisions are “catering” to the majority, I highly doubt that. With the money that Sportsnet has lost (oops, I should have said spent) on their exclusive NHL deal and the fact that they own the Blue Jays, it isn’t too hard to figure out what 80% of their coverage is based on. They want you to only love hockey and baseball, because they need you to only love hockey and baseball. Figure in approximately 15% of the coverage goes to the Raptors who even themselves had a rough start and it took nearly two decades to get even that small piece of the pie. This leaves very little air time for any other sport.

To make up for this lack of coverage, fans have to find other avenues to get their fill. Thanks to modern technology there are websites such as http://www.wakingthered.com/ and podcasts such as TFC Talk found at https://www.allinsportstalk.com/ that help spread the word and get that footy discussion going.

“I started TFC Talk because I wanted more access. I had questions that mainstream media weren’t asking,” Steve Gennaro, Director of All in Sports Talk said. “That’s what we have tried to do, give supporters more access to the club by providing them not only with more information but having their questions answered as well.”

Again, this isn’t a critique on the current coverage as there are a number of excellent reporters such as Molinaro or Neil Davidson, Gareth Wheeler, Kurt Larson and Dan Riccio that really do a fantastic job. It is just that many fans are looking for more and they are simply not getting it through the traditional sources. If mainstream media doesn’t wish to tackle this untapped market that is fine, after all it is their decision to make and they have a board of directors to answer too.

For the non-mainstream media, the focus is a little different. Yes it would be nice to receive some sponsors and donations to help cover the costs and yes, it might even be fantastic to make a simple living from it one day, but realistically it is a very difficult path. Therefore the hours and hours of work it takes to write, or maintain a website, or create a podcast comes from a pure passion for the sport.

“I have no editor, no bosses and no agenda,” Gennaro, a professor at York University said. “Well, not true, there is one agenda. To help grow the game of soccer and to make TFC the most coveted team in Toronto and Canada.”

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