13 April 2007
First let me say that normally I enjoy Mike Freeman articles. He normally brings a good insightful perspective to different topics. I also admire the stand he's taking here, that Bettman is an idiot (every hockey fan knows this) and that his incompetance goes uncriticized by the national (USA) media. Bettman has been bulletproof even though he has overseen a popular league get a lot less popular. All of this is very valid criticism and I wish more people would address these things.
But I, for one, am tired of peple who don't follow and don't particularly care about hockey finding their time to take potshots at it. here's one paragraph that particularly boiled my blood:
No casual fan wants to see blatant hooliganism, but hockey's old guard still rules with an iron stick. They ignore how if fighting was so attractive to the casual viewer -- the most important of consumers -- hockey would not have slid to its current disastrous positioning behind the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, college football, college basketball, college baseball, cheerleading competitions, the dart throwing Olympics, Saturday Night Bowling and YouTube video of my best friend's bar mitzvah.
This is the kind of crap that bothers me. He makes a valid point,violence hurts the leagues image and takes fans away (the merits of this opinion are debateable, but it's at least a reasonable argument) and decides to expand on it to ludicrously that he ruins his credibility. Hockey may not be the NFL for fan support right now, but I hardly think saying it's worse off than darts is truly accomplishing anything.
What angers me the most is that when people make these inaccurate and ill-informed comments they ruin their credibility and stunt actual conversations that may lead to constructive results in hockey. But these ignorant comments make it easy for anyone with an opinion opposite him to dismiss as a hockey ignorant, and difficult for anyone who can see the validity of his criticism to point it out because the other garbage has made it so easily dissmissable.
Mike Freeman DOES have a valid point. Gary Bettman has bundled things so badly that a fan, in the USA, who wants to watch playoff games can't because they are nowhere to be found on TV. He could have secured first round TV deals with stations like TBS, USA, TNT, or any number of basic cable programmers to have the playoff games on TV, but he didn't. Now a great round of playoff games is being missed by people who want to see them. This is a bad thing that Bettman doesn't seem concerned about. Despite this Bettman is criticized less than David Stern and Bud Selig. That is a very solid argument.
It's just the way he makes this point makes his column, and his point, easily forgettable.
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