Well on this very first day of the World Cup I thought I'd take the opportunity to rant about sports. Lots of news.
CBC FIRES BRIAN WILLIAMS
Read a report in the Globe that in the wake of Brian Williams' announcement that he will be switching to CTV at the end of his contract, the CBC had decided to pull him off the air right away. What's more, it sounds like they don't want to even pay the remainder of his contract!
You know, I'm not terribly surprised that this happened. Fox News did the same thing to Paula Zahn when she defected to CNN. If someone defects to another network, usually you don't keep them on the air, you boot them on the street right away. Now I know people were saying that Katie Couric got to stay at the Today Show for a period of time before heading to CBS, and Meredith Vieira on The View before departing for NBC. But they were just going to stay and finish out their final few weeks in their own individual cases. It made no sense to keep Brian Williams on the air at CBC for the next six months if he's going to go around promoting CTV, as he did the other day at the CTV upfront. Simple as that.
Still, this makes CBC look bad, booting this guy out on the street after all he did for them for 20 or so years. CBC looks like the Low-Class Network these days, with the low-class way they have treated veteran sportscasters. Doesn't Williams deserve to get at least one final goodbye telecast or something before getting booted out on the street, so that he could cry on TV like Katie Couric did? Guess not.
Oh yeah, by the way Elliotte Friedman will be the new host of the CFL on CBC broadcasts, replacing Williams.
OUT OF WORK SPORTSCASTERS IN VANCOUVER
Last week Corus pulled the plug officially on MOJO Radio in Vancouver, the all-sports radio station there. Guys like Blake Price and J. Paul McConnell got the boot. Of course, J. Paul McConnell has had very little to do since the BC Lions left Corus to go to The Team 1040. Corus, of course, has been cutting jobs left and right in Vancouver. They cut jobs at 980 CKNW and that station also lost the rights to games of the Vancouver Canucks to the Team 1040. So I'm not surprised they decided to pull the all-sports format off the sister station at 730 on the dial, they no longer had the rights to any decent teams anymore. MOJO most recently has carried Vancouver Giants junior hockey and Vancouver Whitecaps soccer, and they say the new station ( which is supposed to be all traffic reports--- huh?!) will keep carrying those games. But this is not good-- one less all-sports station in Vancouver. It's too bad.
SAM RYAN: NEW GIG
In spite of all the problems facing sportscasters in this country, with people getting the boot and so on, I must say that sportscasting is still a sweet gig and still the one thing I'd most want to pursue in broadcasting. The guys doing what I want to do in broadcasting all had sports as part of their resumes at some point, and it helped them cross over and do other stuff like talk shows, another thing I'd be interested in doing. But the most fun I ever had in broadcasting was when I did sports. Maybe, just maybe, I ought to go to the States.
Read that ABC Sports' Sam Ryan has quit ABC/ESPN for a new gig as a local anchor at CBS 2 in New York City. I read in that article that Sam is gonna be making a six figure salary! That does it, I want to be a sportscaster in New York City, and cover the Yankees and Mets; I want to be rich! The heck with Canada and covering these bleeping hockey games all the time. I've followed Sam's career quite closely, she did the sports updates on WFAN years ago. In those days she went by the name Samantha Ryan. I think Sam Ryan is a babe, but then again, I say that about everyone.
In other sportscasting news that same article says the New Jersey Devils fired their entire WFAN play-by-play crew the other day. Why, I don't know. Sportscasting can be a rough business. There's supposed to be a site going called www.firebobcole.com, where people have tried to get a petition going to boot the Hockey Night in Canada announcer off the air. I think it's just a bunch of disgruntled Ottawa Senators fans behind that one.
FOOTBALL: BECOMING MORE POPULAR WITH CANADIANS
Read an interesting survey that claims football is becoming more popular these days. They did a poll that said hockey was followed by 30% of Canadians, with football at 24%. That's a drop of some 10% for hockey from its mid-90s peak. This survey claims 19% of Canadians follow the CFL while 13% follow the NFL, which came as a surprise to the guy covering that story. But really, when you think of it, the CFL is much more popular than the NFL is out West, by a big freaking margin. That's why so many of these surveys show that the CFL is more popular. In Ontario, though, it's a different story. NFL interest is a lot higher around here. But I think it's just an Ontario thing.
HOCKEY: UNPOPULAR EVERYWHERE EXCEPT CANADA
I'm not surprised that football is now Canada's number two sport. What surprises me is that hockey is still number one in this country after the way this sport has mismanaged itself. Taking the season off, man, that set the sport back years. Has anyone seen the ratings for the Stanley Cup Final on the OLN Network in the USA?! They're terrible! They got less than a million viewers! And the reason the numbers are so terrible is because the games are on a hick network with no promotional reach, the Outdoor Lance (Armstrong) Network. At least if the NHL had been on TNT or somewhere like that (like the NBA games are), the games would have been cross-promoted on TBS and CNN and these other places. But no one watches OLN. I read somewhere that ESPN2 ran women's softball or something against the Stanley Cup Final and beat it. More people watch poker than the NHL, and that is SAD.
Personally, I find it hard these days to get myself wrapped up in a sport--- hockey ---that nobody in the rest of the world cares about. You think people in Europe or South America care about the Stanley Cup right now? The Americans don't care, either, they're more interested in the NBA finals or major league baseball. Even in the rest of the world, like Japan or China or places like that, there's more interest in the NBA and major league baseball than the Stanley Cup. I'll bet that NBC will get more viewers for the Arena Football championship game this weekend than they do for the NHL. Heck, they're hardly even promoting the Stanley Cup Finals on any of their NBC shows. Their Cup ratings will be in the toilet.
That's why I can't get too excited about this sport anymore. If the rest of the world doesn't care, why should we?!
What I don't understand is why the CBC keeps on shoving hockey down the throats of Canadians as our "national sport" all the time. I'm not talking about Hockey Night in Canada here, I'm talking about the rest of the schedule. We're seeing hockey coverage on the news, in prime time programming, everywhere. During the Olympic Games, the CBC showed hockey games all the time! Meanwhile, where's the coverage of all these other sports?! Just today, for example, they did a story on the CBC news about the World Cup of Soccer, yet they couldn't help but point out that in Canada hockey is more popular and that this was soccer's equivalent of the Stanley Cup. They actually said this on the air! What a joke. I can tell you that in Toronto the bars are packed to watch World Cup games, yet the CBC wants to make it sound as if we ought to be surprised that Canadians care about this event! I know that hockey's a popular sport in this country, but this is getting to be sickening, the overexposure and favoritism towards this one sport by the CBC.
Look at the prime time lineup. The CBC is planning to show Hockey: A People's History this fall. They also have on this show Hockeyville, where they're trying to find the most hockey-crazed town in Canada. They're going to announce the winner of this competition and that town will get to host an NHL exhibition game. They also had a show on called The Tournament which was about hockey, and they had that reality show a while back that took a bunch of prospects and had them go through a mock NHL training camp on TV. Whoop de do. The question I have is, why isn't anyone at the CBC showing stuff like Footballville? Or documentaries about the history of football in this country?! Maybe they feel football isn't worthy enough for them, isn't Canadian enough. So they just go ahead and ignore the 24% of Canadians who are interested in football, and do hockey coverage instead. Gets my goat.
See, this is the football fan in me coming out and ranting. At least that sport doesn't take the year off, like hockey does!! Or plays to low ratings on obscure cable networks in the USA! Guys, hockey isn't the only sport in Canada, there are other sports and some of them are actually pretty good! That's it!
By the way, I am so GLAD THAT FOOTBALL IS BACK--- THE CFL IS BACK!!! I'm not so glad Ricky Williams is part of the league, though. But that's the way they want to operate.