North Bay Bias

by Ryan

One of the odder experiences as a sports fan is trying to follow sports through another country’s sports media. For example, you’d be hard pressed to find cricket coverage in the United States, and even what we see of the EPL is different on this side of the Atlantic.

In a similar vein, following anything but hockey on is somewhat stupefying. What makes news first and foremost are the usual major stories, but the secondary content is the Canadian spin on those stories. For example, much of the talk there this weekend has been about the Canadian players in the U.S. Open rather than the leaders. Now while this makes TSN a great source for articles about Jason Bay, it does have an interesting effect on what sports content I take in.

One of the most common complaints about the Canadian sports media in general is that it is very one sided. Mainly, the Canadian media “cheers” for Canadian teams, whether intentional or not. I certainly don’t think this is intentional, but rather an effect of Jason Bay syndrome, so to speak. By picking out the Canadian impact in non-Canadian sports, the story becomes more about nationality than the game’s result.

As a result, nationalist movements like the “Make it Seven” campaign can be very, very effective. Getting a team in Hamilton becomes a source of national pride rather than a practical business move by the NHL. In reality, it makes a more rational, much more lucrative proposal such as a second team in Toronto fall on relatively deaf ears.

Take a look at this article about a rally held in Hamilton a few days ago. I mean, there’s getting quotes for color and then there’s breaking out the pom poms and spelling out “BLACKBERRY.” Were these really the best they could come up with in the “groundswell of support?”

“I’m a New Jersey fan myself, but you know, I’m willing to switch if we get a team in Hamilton,” said Cody Hastings, 15.

“I really want a team. I’ll get season’s tickets right away if we can.”

His dad, Kirk Hastings, also said he’s prepared to change hockey allegiances if his dream of a hometown team is realized.

“We want a team here, we’ve been waiting forever,” he said.

“I’m a Leafs fan and I’m getting tired of the Leafs, so I’m going to need a Hamilton team.”

I don’t mean this as a criticism at all, but it is really interesting to see how something like this is covered by the two different countries. The threat of Phoenix losing the Coyotes has not become a national issue at all, but the Balsillie movement has framed itself exclusively as such. There’s a good reason for this, and it starts with how the media itself will and has covered these events.

The fact of the matter is that there is still a lot of Summit Series left in Canada, and that’s not going away. That’s why the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs matters, and why “Make it Seven”, whether in name or not, is going to be around for a long time.